Porous materials are ubiquitous: soils and rocks support habitat and store energy, cementitious materials are the building blocks of infrastructure, and our body is made of porous tissues. Strikingly, in all of these media, the absence of solid matter, called the porous space, triggers processes that lead to instabilities of the solid structure and/or of the fluid flow. This International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) site award, titled "Mechanics of Porous Media across Scales - Research Experience in Paris" (MPMS Paris), supports U.S. students for immersion in cutting-edge poromechanics research laboratories in Paris, France. The award aims to expose Georgia Tech students to poromechanics research applied to civil, environmental and biomechanical engineering, to immerse them in the academic culture of leading European institutions based in Paris, and to inspire them in the pursuit of a scientific career to create resistant, sustainable and safe porous materials in response to infrastructure, energy and health demands. IRES participants will do a 10-week research internship in one of several host laboratories at leading partners institutions in Paris under the supervision of dual mentors from Georgia Tech and the MPMS Paris partner. The project includes experienced teams who collaborated on a prior IRES award and teams new to the collaboration. Pre- and post- internship activities will be organized in partnership with Georgia Tech international education programs and the Science and Technology Department at the Consulate General of France in Atlanta. IRES participants will take ownership of a research project in elite engineering laboratories, acquire language skills and have longer exposure to history, technology and society than in a regular curriculum. The integration of activities for faculty and undergraduate and graduate students is expected to sustain long-term collaborations between groups focusing on experimental, theoretical and numerical research in poromechanics.
A multi-scale approach is needed to gain a fundamental understanding of the complex phenomena that occur in porous media subjected to mechanical and environmental solicitations, such as hysteretic flow and adsorption, fracture initiation and propagation, in-pore crystallization and damage development, resin infiltration and tissue restoration. The IRES site will gather a community of scientists including world experts in theoretical poro-mechanics and thermodynamics, from Navier and IFSTTAR at Ecole des Ponts Paris Tech (a top European program in applied mathematics and mechanics), MSSMat at Centrale-Supelec (a top European program in mechanical and electrical engineering) and LMS at Ecole Polytechnique (the most selective engineering school in France). Host laboratories are equipped with unique experimental, imaging and material processing facilities and are located on the campuses of French "Grandes Ecoles", which are elite engineering programs. Fundamental research in the physics and mechanics of porous materials will combine cutting-edge simulation tools with advanced experimental and imaging techniques to establish multi-scale models that can capture coupled bio-thermo-hydro-chemo-mechanical processes and predict the sustainability and durability of engineered systems. Teams of dual mentors will foster long-term collaborations by working with several cohorts of IRES students on a core research topic. The IRES program will also support travel expenses for mentors to further enhance the student experience and collaborative research activities. The project will support the successful collaborations established through a prior IRES award led by the PI, expand the program to a larger and more diverse group of scholars and ensure a bilateral flow of scholars between Georgia Tech and Paris.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.