Mayank Garg recently defended his Ph.D. in materials, science and engineering and works in the Autonomous Materials Systems Group at the Beckman Institute. Garg has been at Beckman for 6 years as a Ph.D. candidate and defended on Aug. 10. Next, he will work to create multifunctional composites at Beckman and is also teaching a course in the fall as part of his postdoctoral experience.
Hometown: Sangrur, Punjab, India
What kind of research have you been working on?
I am exploring rapid energy-efficient manufacturing strategies for fabricating multifunctional materials with embedded microfluidic networks, which resemble biological vascular materials such as leaves and bones. To make such bioinspired structures, we employ the energy released during self-propagating curing of a host matrix to simultaneously depolymerize embedded plastic templates (fibers and 3D printed structures) into gaseous products and reveal hollow microchannels in the host material.
Why is this important and why do you find it interesting?
Vascular networks inside thermosets and composites enable environmentally-adaptive structures with self-healing and self-cooling functions for aerospace, automotive, and energy applications. Curing and vascularizing materials in a single step by harnessing stored chemical energy in the host matrix is a sustainable alternative to energy- and time-intensive conventional manufacturing processes requiring large-scale ovens and vacuum systems, saving fabrication energy and time by several orders of magnitude.
How has your affiliation with the Beckman Institute helped you?
The Beckman Institute has provided me the necessary resources and platform for collaborations across chemistry, aerospace, and materials science in this interdisciplinary project. I have also found the seminars and workshops targeted toward responsible conduct of research, science communication, and inclusivity very useful.
The primary faculty I have worked with are Jeffrey Moore, Nancy Sottos, and Philippe Geubelle in the Autonomous Materials Systems Group.
What do you like to do outside of the lab?
I enjoy running on sunny days, occasional hiking/camping, and watching stand-up comedy.
How did your work change during the stay-at-home orders over COVID-19 concerns?
I shifted my work desktop to my home to ensure I can draft my publication documents smoothly.
What has been the hardest adjustment for you during the pandemic?
I was planning on visiting my family in India after almost 2 years but the pandemic situation has made my trip timeline unpredictable.
What has been a hidden benefit of the stay-at-home order?
Staying at home has strengthened my conviction to connect with the people I care about both personally and professionally.