Course Descriptions
MECH_ENG 456: Mechanics of Advanced Materials

Quarter Offered

Winter : TTh 2:00-3:20pm ; C. Brinson




picMicroscale mechanisms and their relation to macroscopic behavior and mathematical constitutive modeling for advanced material systems. Emphasis on polymer viscoelasticity, shape memory materials, other material systems.

Who Takes It

Graduate students interested in understanding the mechanics and materials aspects of advanced material systems. Emphasis on both material mechanisms as well as mathematical mechanics description makes the course useful for students who may consider using these materials in research and design. Students from ME, CE, and Mat Sci have taken this course.

What It's About

Advanced material systems are used increasingly in engineering practice and design and yet standard curricula generally overlooks these complex and fascinating materials. Polymers and their composites are seen in applications ranging from tennis rackets and skis to automobiles and spacecraft. Nanoreinforced polymers are under intense study for possibilities of multifunctionality and dramatically improved material properties.

Smart materials are being used and investigated for numerous medical devices, aircraft and MEMS applications. These novel materials are chosen for the advantages they offer in properties over traditional, simple elastic materials. However, the unique properties arise due to complicated micro and molecular level mechanisms that also manifest in useful macroscopic properties. Understanding the underlying mechanisms and being able to describe the mechanical response of these advanced materials is a growing challenge.

This course covers polymer viscoelasticity, shape memory materials, piezoelectric materials, electro-rheological fluids, magnetostrictive materials. Materials and mechanics issues related to the behavior of these advanced or "smart" materials are highlighted. Constitutive models for macroscale representation of the material response to mechanical load, temperature changes, electric field, etc. are studied. Microscale mechanisms responsible for their unique properties, such as molecular mobility and phase transitions are discussed in depth. The course focuses primarily on polymers and shape memory alloys, with introductions to the other materials and possibility for greater depth on a given material of interest via a course project.


Students will be graded on the basis of weekly homework assignments, an in-class midterm exam, and a final project. The final project consists of a written report and an oral presentation.

Reference Materials

  • Brinson and Brinson, Polymer Engineering Science and Viscoelasticity, Springer 2015
  • J. D. Ferry Viscoelastic Properties of Polymers, 3rd ed.. Wiley, 1980, ISBN: 0471048941.
  • N. W. Tschoegl The phenomenological Theory of Linear Viscoelastic Behavior: an introduction. Springer-Verlag, 1989, ISBN: 3540191739.
  • R. M. Christensen Theory of Viscoelasticity. Academic Press, 1982, ISBN: 0121742520
  • W. Flugge Viscoelasticity . McGraw-Hill, 1967.
  • C. R. Crowe, editor Smart Structures and Materials . SPIE Proceedings 1996. ISBN: 0819420964
  • Materials Research Society Bulletin. April 1993 issue. Call No: L620.1105 M939
  • Engineering aspects of shape memory alloys / [edited by] T.W. Duerig ... [et al.], Butterworth-Heinemann, Boston, 1990
  • Shape memory materials / edited by K. Otsuka and C.M. Wayman, New York : Cambridge University Press, 1998. Call No: 620.1632 S529
  • Shape memory alloys / edited by Hiroyasu Funakubo ; translated from the Japanese by J.B. Kennedy, New York : Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, 1987


Professor: Catherine Brinson