HEMI hosts workshop with Sandia National Laboratories focusing on materials under extreme conditions

 HEMI co-sponsored a workshop with Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) on Thursday, September 1 . The workshop, held on the Homewood campus, focused on energetic materials, non-destructive testing, planetary science, AI for materials design, hypervelocity impact, fire science diagnostics, and the use of X-ray imaging techniques to characterize materials. Sandia representatives also shared an overview of their large-scale facilities. 

Sessions were chaired by HEMI Fellows June Wicks, assistant professor in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Jaafar El-Awady, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering. 

Representatives from Sandia included Sarah Stair, Scott Alexander, and Caroline Winters. The visitors from Sandia also met individually with Johns Hopkins graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to outline research internship opportunities at SNL.


SNL representatives (left to right): Caroline Winters, Scott Alexander, and Sarah Stair.  

MD Congressional staff visit JHU; meet with HEMI & MSEE leadership

On August 24, 2022, legislative staff from the offices of Sen. Ben Cardin, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Rep. David Trone and Rep. CA Dutch Ruppersberger arrived on the JHU Homewood campus to visit HEMI and meet with leaders of the Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments (MEDE) program and Materials in Extreme Environments University Research Alliance (MSEE URA).

Facilitated with the help of the JHU Office of Government and Community Affairs (JHU GCA), this visit allowed staff to receive programmatic updates from Prof. Lori Graham-Brady (MEDE) and Prof. Tim Weihs (MSEE URA) as well as touring laboratory facilities.   The facility tours highlighted the research of both the MEDE and MSEE URA programs.

This visit demonstrates the strong Maryland Congressional support for the major centers within HEMI and their emphasis on the importance of research sponsored by the Department of Defense.

Back left: Prof. Tim Weihs (MSEE URA), Prof. Lori Graham-Brady (MEDE), Prof. Todd Hufnagel (MSEE URA), Mr. Ata Khan (Rep. Trone), Mr. Sam Mollin (JHU GCA).
Front left: Ms. Kristen Reek (JHU GCA), Ms. Hunter Ryan (Rep. Ruppersberger), Ms. Elonna Jones (Sen. Van Hollen), Mr. DeMarcus Walker (Sen. Cardin), Mr. Andrew Proulx (MSEE URA), Ms. Yvonne Darpoh (JHU GCA), and Ms. Margaret Dean (JH-APL GCA).


Announcing the 2022 HEMI Seed Grant Awardees

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2022 HEMI Seed Grants: Prof. Yayuan Liu, Dr. Chao He, and Prof. Dimitris Giovanis!

Liu is an an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and an associate faculty member in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Her accepted proposal is titled “Designing Vascularized Porous Electrodes with Enhanced Ion Transport for Battery Extreme Fast Charging.”

He is an associate research scientist in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. His accepted proposal is titled “Spectral signature of prebiotic molecules in Titan’s surface materials.”

Giovanis is an assistant research professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering and Fellow within HEMI. His accepted proposal is titled “Data Driven Uncertainty Quantification for Energetic Materials.”

Each HEMI Seed Grant awards $25,000 to each recipient for the effective award period of September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2023. They are given each year to fund research in fundamental science associated with materials and structures under extreme conditions. All faculty and researchers at the Johns Hopkins University, as well as Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) staff, who can serve as Principal and Co-Investigators are eligible to apply. Learn more about the program here.

Kshitiz Upadhyay receives 2022 WCB Early Career Research Award

Kshitiz Upadhyay, a postdoctoral fellow in HEMI, recently received the WCB Early Career Research Award. Given by the World Congress of Biomechanics, (WCB) the award recognizes the research of promising scientists, six years removed from completing their doctoral degrees and is distributed every four years during the Congress.

He was selected by committee after completing a three-step process: submitting a short abstract, being selected to submit an extended abstract, then giving an oral presentation of his abstract during the WCB 2022 Young Researcher Award Session.

Upadhyay’s research interests lie in the broad area of mechanics of soft materials, with emphasis on constitutive modeling, injury biomechanics, experimental solid mechanics, and data-driven methods. He is is a postdoctoral fellow in the Ramesh lab within the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute at Johns Hopkins University. He received his PhD and MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida, and B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from the National Institute of Technology–Bhopal, India. Prior to his graduate studies, he worked as a Mechanical Design Engineer at Applied Materials India.

He was awarded the Best Dissertation Award, the Graduate Student Research Award, the Gator Engineering Attribute Award, and the Outstanding International Student Award, all from the University of Florida. He also won first place in the 2019 SEM Michael Sutton International Student Paper Competition for his research on the experimental characterization of high strain rate shear response of soft materials.

Dr. Upadhyay will be starting as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Louisiana State University in August 2022.


HEMI leaders join other JHU experts to brief Congress and the public on artificial intelligence on July 28

From self-parking cars to digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa, artificial intelligence is an integral part of many people’s daily lives. But experts say we have only just begun to explore AI’s power to transform and improve lives in areas including health care, transportation, public health, education, climate change, and more.

From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 28, in the next installment of Johns Hopkins Congressional Briefing Series, AI experts from Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering, School of Medicine, Applied Physics Laboratory, and Berman Institute of Bioethics will offer their insights into the opportunities and challenges presented by AI. These every-other-month briefings offer policymakers, their staff, and the public the chance to hear top experts’ views on important and relevant topics, such as gun violence, maternal health, and COVID-19. Registration is required, and attendees can submit questions in advance or during the briefing, which will be livestreamed here.

The session, titled “Artificial Intelligence: Opportunities and Challenges,” will be moderated by KT Ramesh, Alonzo G. Decker Jr. Professor of Science and Engineering, director of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute, and senior advisor for AI to Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels.

“At Johns Hopkins, we are bringing together two powerful forces, human intelligence and artificial intelligence, with the goal of understanding and improving the human condition,” Ramesh said. “The power of AI is at work in everything from autonomous technologies such as self-driving cars and robotic spacecraft to technologies that help us understand disease mechanisms and deliver better healthcare to patients. In this briefing, our experts will discuss the promise of AI, its impact, the ethical issues surrounding its use, and much more.”

Johns Hopkins experts participating are:

Student-Built, Dime-Sized Instrument Is Venus-bound on NASA’s DAVINCI

DAVINCI Descent Sphere above Venus
DAVINCI will send a meter-diameter probe to brave the high temperatures and pressures near Venus’ surface to explore the atmosphere from above the clouds to near the surface of a terrain that may have been a past continent. During its final kilometers of free-fall descent (artist’s impression shown here), the probe will capture spectacular images and chemistry measurements of the deepest atmosphere on Venus for the first time.
Credits: NASA/GSFC/CI Labs

Venus Oxygen Fugacity (VfOx) is a small, button-sized sensor aboard NASA’s DAVINCI mission to Venus’ atmosphere that will be designed, fabricated, tested, operated, and analyzed by undergraduate and graduate students as the mission’s Student Collaboration Experiment.

Planned for launch in 2029, the DAVINCI mission (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) will send a spacecraft and a probe to Venus to investigate numerous unsolved mysteries of the planet. Prior to dropping its descent probe into the Venus atmosphere, the spacecraft will perform two flybys of the planet, taking measurements of clouds and ultraviolet absorption on the Venusian day side, and taking measurements of heat emanating from the planet’s surface on the night side. Two years after launch, the mission’s probe, called the Descent Sphere, will enter the Venus atmosphere, ingesting and analyzing atmospheric gases and collecting images as it descends to the surface of the planet at the Alpha Regio region.

VfOx will be mounted on the outside of the Descent Sphere, where it will measure the oxygen fugacity – the partial pressure of the oxygen – in the deep atmosphere beneath Venus’ clouds, including the near-surface environment.

By analyzing these ground-breaking VfOx measurements, scientists will, for the first time, seek to identify what minerals are most stable at the surface of Venus in the highlands and link the formation of rocks to their recent modification histories. VfOx will measure the amount of oxygen present near the surface of Venus as a “fingerprint” of the rock-atmosphere reactions that are going on today. The balance of how much oxygen is present in the atmosphere, compared to the amount of oxygen captured in the rocks of Venus, will provide information towards a new understanding of the surface minerals in a mountainous region of Venus (known as “tessera”) that has never been visited by a spacecraft.

Understanding how much oxygen is contained in Venus’ atmosphere will be important in preparation for characterizing Venus-like worlds beyond our solar system with the JWST and future observatories. How much oxygen Venus has in its deepest atmosphere will help scientists studying these remote worlds distinguish between oxygen produced by life, such as what happens on Earth, from oxygen produced solely by abiotic chemical planetary processes, such as what happens on Venus.

The instrument will operate similarly to the oxygen sensor in many automobile engines, which measures the amount of oxygen in the fuel system relative to other components of the fuel. Like all instruments aboard the DAVINCI Descent Sphere, VfOx must be adapted to survive Venus’ inhospitable atmosphere. Even though temperatures at the surface of the planet are hot enough to melt lead, the temperatures in internal combustion car engines are even hotter, so VfOx will operate in a comparatively cooler environment on Venus. Additionally, VfOx will be built out of ceramic, a material that is resistant to temperature changes.

The motivating goal for DAVINCI’s Student Collaboration Experiment is educating and training young scientists and engineers in planetary science and engineering skills and providing a real-world application for those skills. “We are trying to engage and encourage the next generation of planetary scientists and engineers,” says Dr. Noam Izenberg, principal research staff at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, and student collaboration lead for VfOx on DAVINCI.

Students will build the VfOx instrument, analyze the data it returns from Venus, and participate in science activities with the DAVINCI science team. Students involved will be advised by faculty at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The excitement of being actively involved with a real space-flight mission as an undergraduate may be one of the best incentives to attract a diverse group of students to this project. “We want to attract more students from all backgrounds, including the less-advantaged and the less-represented,” says Dr. Izenberg. “There will be lots of mentors across the board – on the mission and science side, and the engineering side – where students can find not just mentors of the professions that they might be looking for, but also mentors who look like them, because the DAVINCI team itself is fairly good in its own diversity.”

Johns Hopkins will be working in collaboration with the Applied Physics Lab to plan and implement the student experiment. Johns Hopkins will also work in collaboration with the Maryland Institute College of Arts in Baltimore, which has an extreme arts institute that will be involved with an intersection between science and art. The Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute in Baltimore will help coordinate this project, and Morgan State University in Baltimore is an intended partner.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is the principal investigator institution for DAVINCI and will perform project management and scientific leadership for the mission, as well as project systems engineering to develop the probe flight system. Goddard also leads the project science support team and provides two key instruments on the probe.

Prototype VfOx instrument
These images of a prototype of the shirt-button-sized VfOx instrument show the disk of the sensor itself. It has a diameter of just under one centimeter (almost 0.4 inches) and will be located on the side of the DAVINCI Descent Sphere.
Credits: Johns Hopkins APL

Brooke Hess
​NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Media Contacts:

Bill Steigerwald
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
[email protected]

This article originally appeared on the NASA website.

Christopher Stiles appointed as a HEMI Fellow

Christopher D. Stiles has been appointed as the newest HEMI Fellow.

Stiles is currently a Multiscale Mathematical Modeling Section Supervisor with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory whose research focuses on multiscale computational modeling of materials and their interaction with dynamic environments. For the last several years, Stiles has acted as a bridge between data scientists and physical scientists specializing in fields ranging from quantum engineering, to materials science, to chemistry, to biology, and more.

He teaches the Symmetries in Crystalline Solids course in the Johns Hopkins University Engineering for Professionals program and is developing courses in materials discovery enabled by AI. Additional areas of expertise include machine learning, molecular/synthetic biology, and multiscale phenomena.

A HEMI Fellow must be able to be a principal investigator on a research grant as defined by Homewood Academic Council. All privileges accorded by Homewood Academic Council are de jure available to HEMI Fellows. Typically, this means they are Johns Hopkins University tenured and tenure-track faculty, research faculty or Applied Physics Laboratory professional staff.

HEMI researchers create lightweight material to improve military armor, automobile and aerospace parts

A team of Johns Hopkins University researchers have created energy-absorbing material that is lighter, absorbs more impact than metal, and is reusable.

The research team discovered that liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs), a reusable and highly energy-absorbing material, can be incorporated into military armor and automobile and aerospace parts to increase their impact absorption capability. As part of its analysis, the research team reports its efforts to use LCEs to develop the lightweight energy-absorbing material in a recently published Advanced Materials article.

“Vicky Nguyen, another fellow in HEMI, informed me of liquid crystal elastomers, and we observed this material has a very good energy absorption capability, which increases at higher speeds, said senior author Sung Hoon Kang, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and HEMI Fellow. “We continued examining liquid crystal elastomers, revisited my previous research about how geometric designs correlate with energy absorption, and discovered there is synergy between this material and geometry that enhances energy absorption capability.”

The inspiration for this research stems from Kang’s examination of how car bumpers absorb impact and previous work on meta-material that absorbs energy from impact. To address the current challenges of energy-absorbing materials, the research team investigated energy absorption behavior of a form-like LCE structures over a wide range of impact speeds by measuring their responses. Besides, they also applied computer simulations to help understand how the LCE material behavior and the geometry synergistically contributed to energy absorption.

Currently, Kang is cultivating a collaboration with other researchers and a helmet company to design, fabricate, and test next-generation helmets for the Department of Defense and athletes. Additionally, Kang and the research team are investigating approaches to further increase energy absorption of the material by incorporating an additional energy absorption mechanism.

The research team included: Kang, Thao (Vicky) Nguyen, professor and Marlin U. Zimmerman, Jr. Faculty Scholar at Johns Hopkins University; Christopher M. Yakacki, associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver; and Seung-Yeol Jeon, Beijun Shen, Nicholas Traugutt, Zeyu Zhu, and Lichen Fang, who are affiliated with the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute.

This research is supported in part by the Army Research Office (Grant Number W911NF-17-1-0165) and the Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering Start-Up Fund.

HEMI Fellow Muyinatu ‘Bisi’ Bell elected to the AIMBE College of Fellows

Muyinatu (Bisi) Bell, John C. Malone Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with joint appointments in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science, HEMI Fellow, and the director of the PULSE (Photoacoustic & Ultrasonic Systems Engineering) Lab, has been elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s College of Fellows.

Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to medical and biomedical engineers. It honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering and medicine research, practice, or education. Bisi is being recognized “for pioneering contributions to development of ultrasonic and photoacoustic medical imaging systems, including coherence-based beamforming, photoacoustic-guided surgery, and deep learning applications.”

Her work links light, sound, and robotics to create and deploy next-generation medical imaging systems that produce clearer pictures, enabling more accurate diagnosis and reducing the risk of harm and death during surgery. She was the first to demonstrate the benefits of photoacoustic-guided surgery for neurosurgeries, gynecological surgeries, spinal fusion surgeries, liver surgeries, pancreatic surgeries, cardiac catheter-based interventions, and a multitude of teleoperated robotic surgeries. Her research breaks new ground in the fundamental understanding of technology designs, image quality requirements, and innovative light delivery systems that attach to surgical tools to transmit laser energy directly to the surgical site, generating clearer live views of a patient’s internal anatomy to help surgeons avoid injuring critical features.

Learn more about Professor Bell and her research within HEMI in this short video feature >>