James K. Knowles Lecture
and Caltech Solid Mechanics Symposium


James K. Knowles Lecture

Friday, January 27, 2012, Beckman Institute Auditorium

See Event Schedule

The 3rd annual James K. Knowles Lecture and Caltech Solid Mechanics Symposium was held on Friday, January 27, 2012, in the Beckman Institute Auditorium. The James K. Knowles Lecture by Richard D. James, University of Minnesota, will be followed by the Solid Mechanics Symposium with presentations by current Caltech graduate students and postdocs.

The Lecture and Symposium are in memory of James K. Knowles, William J. Keenan, Jr. Professor of Applied Mechanics, Emeritus, who passed away on November 1, 2009. He is well known for his research contributions to the theory of nonlinear elasticity and the mathematical theories of materials and structures. Dr. Knowles inspired and influenced generations of students and scholars and authored over one hundred journal publications, as well as a textbook for graduate students entitled Linear Vector Spaces and Cartesian Tensors (Oxford University Press).

The Lecture and Symposium will be held annually and are made possible by the Division of Engineering and Applied Science and the support of family, friends and colleagues through donations to the James K. Knowles Memorial Fund.

Materials for the direct conversion of heat to electricity

by Richard D. James, University of Minnesota

There are enormous reservoirs of energy stored on Earth at small temperature differences, including natural sources such as the temperature difference between ocean (~0°C) and ambient (-40° to -20° C for most of the year) in the arctic, and man-made sources like the waste heat from power plants and computers. The conversion of these to useable forms of energy challenges basic thermodynamic reasoning. Any such conversion device is of low efficiency, but is efficiency relevant when one is not paying for the heat? Some heat engines are highly efficient, but their ability to absorb significant amounts of heat in a reasonable period of time is limited. We present a new concept for the direct conversion of heat to electricity using phase transformations in multiferroic materials. Even though the concept involves neither significant applied stress nor significant shape change, mechanics plays the key role, as the reversibility of these phase transformations apparently rests on an issue of elastic compatibility.

Richard D. James

Richard D. James is Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Russell J. Penrose Professor at the University of Minnesota. He has a Sc.B. in Engineering from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University. He has authored or co-authored some 100 articles, has given 35 plenary and named lectureships, and was awarded the Humboldt Senior Research Award (2006/7), the Warner T. Koiter Medal from ASME (2008), the William Prager Medal from the Society of Engineering Science, and the Brown Engineering Alumni Medal (2009). James’ current research concerns the study of “Objective Structures,” a mathematical way of looking at the structure of matter, and the direct conversion of heat to electricity using phase transformations in multiferroic materials.

Time Speaker Title
9:00–10:00am Richard James Materials for the Direct Conversion of Heat to Electricity
10:00–10:30am Refreshments—Beckman Institute Courtyard
10:30–10:55am Andrew Richards Linking Microscale Properties to Macroscale Behavior in Polycrystalline Materials
10:55–11:20am Zachary Aitken Simulations of Energetics and Structure of FCC/BCC Interfaces
11:20–11:45am Jeffrey Amelang Steps Towards Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamics
11:45–12:10pm Georgios Theocharis Nonlinear Dynamics of Granular Crystals
12:15–1:45pm Lunch—Beckman Institute Courtyard
1:50–2:15pm Jordan Raney The Effect of Structural Hierarchy on the Mechanical Properties of Carbon Nanotube Foams
2:15–2:40pm Jacob Notbohm Probing Cellular Mechanotransduction with 3D Traction Force Microscopy
2:40–3:05pm Gwendolyn Johnson Modeling, Design, and Control of Self-Assembling Systems
3:05–3:20pm Refreshments—Beckman Institute Courtyard
3:20–3:45pm Bo Li Numerical Modeling of Hypervelocity Impacts
3:45–4:10pm Kawai Kwok Large Deformation of Viscoelastic Membranes
4:10–4:35pm Junle Jiang The Interaction of Dynamic Rupture and Fault Heterogeneity Over Multiple Earthquake Cycles
4:35–5:00pm Vito Rubino The Feasibility of Dynamic Full-Field Earthquake Measurements from Space: A Laboratory Study
5:00–6:00pm Social—Beckman Institute Courtyard

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