June 22, 2020

Ass.Prof. Dr. Elisa DAVOLI receives the prestigious START Award 2020

Ass.Prof. Dr. Elisa DAVOLI has won the prestigious START Award of the Austrian Science Fund FWF for her project on "Tunable materials: geometry, nonlocality, chirality“. The award ceremony on June 17, 2020 was led my the FWF President Klement Tockner and the Austrian Science Minister Heinz Faßmann. 

Elisa received her PhD in Mathematics in 2012 from the SISSA (Italy). Afterwards she had been postdoc at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (USA) from 2012-2015 and at University of Vienna from 2015-2019. In 2019, she completed the habilitation in Mathematics at University of Vienna. Having granted an Elise-Richter-Fellowship, she and her group moved to TU Wien in 2020. 

Within her START project, Elisa aims to study one particular topic of the mathematics of material science: The possibility of identifying materials capable to switch, enhance, or tune their properties according to external stimuli is one of the key catalysts for the scientific quest to move beyond standard constituents already present in nature and to identify new artificially engineered composites: the metamaterials. A crucial feature of tunable metamaterials is the possibility of altering their behavior by undergoing suitably induced phase transitions, sensing changes in the environmental conditions, and responding to them in a predetermined manner. This distinctive feature of tunable materials, in turn, results in an extremely wide versatility and breadth of applications, ranging from 4D printing, smart buildings adaptable to climate-change effects, as well as optical recording and next-generation clothing. 

On the one hand, there is a longstanding joint effort between materials scientists, physicists, and applied mathematicians in order to find new smart materials. On the other hand, despite the fact that phase transitions are ubiquitous phenomena, the mathematical modeling of materials exhibiting different phases is a vast field, with many open and unsolved challenges. This makes the study of tunable materials a new essential target for the scientific and technological research on metamaterials. An essential first step to eventually build a comprehensive theory for tunable materials is the identification of rigorously deduced macroscopical mathematical models, capable of encompassing multiphase features and phase transitions into the description of complex microstructures.

Overall, Elisa’s project is located at the interface between Calculus of Variations, PDE Analysis, and Applied Mathematics. It aims at addressing three fundamental questions in this direction:

(1) How is the effective response of a smart material influenced by the geometric distribution of its components?

(2) How do nonlocal effects interact with time-evolving phase-transitions and with the possible onset of microstructure?

(3) How do the chiral properties of an active composite material interact with its overall macroscopic tunability?

The Institute of Analysis and Scientific Computing congratulates Elisa on this prestigious award. We looking forward to the novel mathematical developments in this interesting field of mathematics of material science!

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