Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering

Research Areas

Solid mechanicians focus on the deformation and failure of materials with a defined rest shape - for example, the solid parts of Earth, the human-built environment, and biological matter such as the human body. An over-arching theme is to study the physics of a solid body’s reaction to diverse influences - stress, deformation, temperature changes, electromagnetic fields, fluid flow and how it fails. This is addressed on a range of length scales, from a cluster of atoms to tectonic plates, using experimental, theoretical, and computational methods. It also involves behaviors happening at highly diverse timescales, from picoseconds all the way to geologic timescales. Professor Michael Ortiz, describes his Solid Mechanics group at Caltech as covering the “entire waterfront of solid mechanics.” He explains, “Solid mechanicians act as a bridge between fundamental science and industry. We at Caltech take a broad view: In a sense, we take the baton all the way to the finish line. We are involved in real-world applications, engineering, and testing. We are needed, and that’s why we’re still in business.” He sees himself as primarily an engineer. “Others come to the field from physics or applied math and may have a different emphasis,” he explains. “As an engineer, I envision the end application. We start with an application and do whatever we need to solve the problem or make progress in an area - we may use applied mathematics, computational mechanics, or another approach, but our research and our papers are always applications driven.” (Exerpted from: ENGENIOUS)

Recent Papers

Mendez, J. P. and Ponga, M. and Ortiz, M. (2018) Diffusive molecular dynamics simulations of lithiation of silicon nanopillars. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 115 pp. 123-141. ISSN 0022-5096

Kirchdoerfer, T. and Liebscher, A. and Ortiz, M. (2018) CTH shock physics simulation of non-linear material effects within an aerospace CFRP fastener assembly due to direct lightning attachment. Composite Structures, 189 . pp. 357-365. ISSN 0263-8223

Schill, W. and Heyden, S. and Conti, S. et al. (2018) The anomalous yield behavior of fused silica glass. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 113 . pp. 105-125. ISSN 0022-5096

Kirchdoerfer, T. and Ortiz, M. (2018) Data-Driven Computing in Dynamics. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, 113 (11). pp. 1697-1710. ISSN 0029-5981