Xiaoyu ‘Rayne’ Zheng, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, has received an Office of Naval Research 2019 Young Investigator award to study rational design and additive manufacturing of 3D piezoelectrics with arbitrary anisotropy for maritime self-sensing structures. The work will be done as part of ONR’s Maritime Sensing Program.

The ability to tailor energy transduction materials is critical to meet demanding operational environments where weight, robustness, and performance are equally important. The three-year, $750,000 project aims to develop design and additive manufacturing techniques to advance the knowledge and capabilities for developing novel transducer and sensing platforms.

“Traditionally, you would have to deal with the existing properties within the materials you are given and distribute a large number of sensors onto your target of interests,” said Zheng. “Our goal is to rationally design the structural-property relationships to enable a variety of customizable acoustic sensing and transduction applications with only a fraction of their parent materials.” 

The Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program is one of the nation’s oldest and most selective science and technology basic research programs. Its purpose is to fund early-career academic researchers whose scientific pursuits show outstanding promise for supporting the Department of Defense while also promoting their professional development.

Zheng is one of only 25 awardees this year, selected from more than 260 applicants, all of whom were college and university faculty and who obtained their doctoral degrees in the past seven years.

In addition to the ONR award, Zheng received the 2018 Air Force Young Investigator Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for his work developing flexible inorganic metamaterials for future flight structures and a Junior Faculty Award in 2017 from the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.

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