AME’s Katherine Yanhang Zhang wins DARPA Young Faculty Research Award


Katherine Yanhang Zhang (AME)
Katherine Yanhang Zhang (AME)

Katherine Yanhang Zhang (AME) was recently awarded a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Research Award for her proposal titled “Micro- and Nano- Mechanics of Thin Film and Thin Film Coatings.”

Through the Young Faculty Award program, DARPA awards grants to non-tenured Assistant Professors with tenure-track positions proposing innovative research that could lead to revolutionary advancements in the state-of-the-art in any of five areas: electronics, photonics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), architectures or algorithms. Only 10 awards are made annually for $150,000.

Zhang is a Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor at the College of Engineering. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanical behavior of soft biological tissues and composites at multi-scale using both experimental techniques and advanced computational modeling. Her research interest also lies in the mechanical characterization of MEMS and NEMS structures.

The growing interest in device miniaturization to micro- and nano-scale has posed a new challenge for the development of reliable design and analysis tools, explained Zhang. However mechanics within and between films and coatings at this scale are not fully understood. “The successful completion of this project will bridge the gap between basic research and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) applications, and is critical for future technology development,” said Zhang.  

“This is wonderful news for us and wonderful news for Katherine,” said John Baillieul, chairman of the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering department.

Zhang’s research integrates knowledge in biology, nonlinear solid mechanics, and finite element modeling. She did her graduate work in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder and attended Tsinghua University for an undergraduate degree in engineering mechanics.