The MS2M = Mechanics of Smart and Soft Materials Lab at Oklahoma State University is directed by Dr. Aurélie Azoug and focuses on the mechanical behavior of smart and/or soft materials, mostly polymers and elastomers but also soft tissues. Specifically, we are interested in the underlying mechanisms leading to the macroscopic behavior. We investigate the time-dependent and temperature-dependent mechanical behaviors of active elastomers in order to develop reliable theoretical models. We developed a particular interest for liquid crystal elastomers and thin elastomer sheets, as well as for the influence of pregnancy on soft tissues and resulting balance issues.

The research combines experimental investigations with modeling approaches to understand and predict the nonlinear behavior of these new materials. Active polymers present a modeling challenge because the actuation results from the coupling between at least two physical mechanisms. The small scale mechanisms, such as polymer chain dynamics, swelling, actuation, and ageing, result in the observed nonlinear behavior. Understanding the mutual interactions between these mechanisms governs the quality of the theoretical models.  The lab uses these predictions to explore innovative applications for smart elastomers, using new manufacturing methods and synthesis routes applicable to soft materials.

The changes to the female body during pregnancy are extensive and relatively rapid. One in four pregnant woman falls at least once during her pregnancy. To avoid falling or decrease falling risks, numerous strategies are developed to mitigate the impact of pregnancy, such as wider stance, shorter steps, and more subtle adaptations of the frequency of oscillations. We developed a musculoskeletal model of the pregnant woman based on previous anthropomorphic measurements and used it to assess the influence of unevenly distributed mass gain during pregnancy on standing and gait risk of falling.

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Dr. Azoug receives the NSF CAREER award

Dr. Azoug received an NSF CAREER award. The project, entitled: “Dissipation mechanisms and damping in smart elastomers with intermolecular organization”, will start on August 1st and will allow the lab to explore in details the deformation mechanisms of Liquid Crystal Elastomers at microscopic and macroscopic scales. The project also entails a large education component focused… Continue reading Dr. Azoug receives the NSF CAREER award

Congratulations to Abby Haddox!

Abby successfully defended her Masters thesis yesterday. Her project, “A smart skin to treat and prevent pressure ulcers”, was supported by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. We are sad to see her go but extremely confident that she will find more success in her new adventures! Continue reading Congratulations to Abby Haddox!