MAE Seminar: “Controlling cracks in granular materials”

Thursday, November 29, 2018
2:00 - 3:00 pm
SEH, B1220

Speaker: Dr. Sujit Datta, Princeton University


Granular materials often crack when they dry, a phenomenon that affects the performance of structural materials, coatings, drug delivery platforms, sensors, and even geological structures. In many of these cases, the particles are porous and shrinkable: they swell when hydrated and shrink when dried. Here, we describe how this shrinkability influences cracking behavior. Using a combination of poroelasticity theory, discrete-element simulations, continuum modeling, and experiments, we find that cracking behavior can be predicted from four state variables that arise from the interplay between fluid transport, grain shrinkage, capillary cohesion, and substrate adhesion. Moreover, we show how crack evolution can be guided by tuning the spatial structure of the drying profile. Our results provide a way to control crack evolution and ultimately could pave a way to better manage drying-induced cracks in engineering applications. Ultimately, our research stimulates new findings and questions at the interface of Engineering, Physics, and Materials Science.


Prof. DattaSujit Datta is an Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton University. He is also an Affiliated Faculty at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials. He earned a BA in Mathematics and Physics and an MS in Physics in 2008 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied nanomaterials like graphene and carbon nanotubes. He earned his PhD in Physics in 2013 from Harvard, where he studied fluid dynamics and instabilities in porous media and colloidal microcapsules. His postdoctoral training was in Chemical Engineering at Caltech, where he studied microbial biophysics of the gut. He joined Princeton in 2017, where his lab seeks to understand and control the interactions between soft materials and their complex environments, motivated by applications like oil/gas recovery, water remediation, and drug delivery. Prof. Datta is the recipient of the LeRoy Apker Award for outstanding achievements in Physics, the Andreas Acrivos Award in Fluid Dynamics from the American Physical Society, the Alfred Rheinstein Faculty Award, and the ACS Petroleum Research Fund New Investigator Award.