Published: March 2, 2019
Rong Long

Congratulations to University of Colorado Boulder mechanical engineering Assistant Professor Rong Long for earning a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award!

The initiative recognizes early-career faculty working at universities across the United States who have the potential to serve as academic role models in both research and education and to lead advances in the missions of their organizations.

Long is one of nine current faculty members in the CU Boulder Department of Mechanical Engineering to have received CAREER awards.

The five year, $500,000 grant will support fundamental research on the fracture resistance of soft elastomers and hydrogels. Soft materials that can undergo large reversible deformation have been widely utilized in industrial applications such as tires and soft adhesives, or emerging technologies such as soft robots, biomedical implants and stretchable display.

In these applications, the underlying soft materials are required to be stretchable to enable functionality and yet fracture resistant to enhance reliability. Driven by this need, various physical or chemical mechanisms have been developed to enhance the fracture resistance of soft materials, and they share a common theme: to introduce energy dissipation or consumption by the material during deformation. However, theoretical modeling and experimental characterization of fracture in such soft dissipative materials are challenging due to the lack of understandings on the quantitative relation between energy dissipation and fracture resistance.

This research program will establish experimental and modeling capabilities to uncover the complex nonlinear mechanics associated with soft material fracture, which will lead to quantitative principles for engineering new soft functional materials that are mechanically robust, as well as new tools to measure and predict fracture in soft materials. Thus, the research will promote the science of soft material fracture to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare.

As part of research, education and outreach programs will be developed to promote research of soft material fracture in academic, educational and industrial sectors by creating an interdisciplinary summer workshop, integrating research findings into curriculum and K-12 outreach activities, and building collaborations with industrial partners.

Long has been a member of the CU Boulder mechanical engineering faculty since 2014. He earned his undergraduate degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at the University of Science and Technology of China, and his PhD, also in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, at Cornell University.