Assistant Professor Yuhang Hu has received the 2021 Journal of Applied Mechanics Award for her paper, “Kinetics of polyelectrolyte gels,” Journal of Applied Mechanics 87, published in June of 2020.
Polyelectrolyte (PE) gels play indispensable roles in every level of living organisms from cells, tissues, to organs by selectively allowing solvent and small molecules to diffuse in and out. As a result, nutrients are supplied, wastes are expelled, signals are transmitted, and various biological functions are realized. Synthetic PE gels are widely used in many applications including drug delivery, soft sensors and actuators, soft robots, fuel cell membrane, electrolytes in batteries, artificial organs, and wearable electronics.
In their paper, Hu and her collaborators develop a rigorous nonequilibrium thermodynamics framework to study the fully coupled concurrent deformation and diffusion of polyelectrolyte (PE) gels. Scientifically, their model can help to unravel the chemomechanical coupling mechanisms of PE gels and soft biological tissues. For engineering applications, the model can help achieve optimal design of PE gels in various applications such as drug delivery and soft robots.
The Journal of Applied Mechanics Award is provided by the Applied Mechanics Division (AMD) of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to honor the best paper published in the Journal of Applied Mechanics during the two calendar years immediately preceding the year of the award. The award is presented annually to a corresponding author of the paper who received their Ph.D. no more than 10 years prior to July 1 of the year of award.
Hu joined the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering in 2018. Her research focuses on chemomechanics of soft active materials, an interdisciplinary are between mechanics and polymer chemistry. She is a past recipient of an NSF CAREER award, AFOSR YIP award, and Extreme Mechanics Letters Young Investigator award.