UCSB Materials welcomes Assistant Professor Ananya Renuka Balakrishna starting on November 1, 2022. Dr. Renuka Balakrishna’s research investigates the delicate interplay between atomic scale crystallographic changes and the continuum scale microstructural evolution that shapes physical properties of phase transformation materials. She develops and applies physics-based models (e.g., phase-field methods, molecular dynamics) to understand how microstructures form and evolve during phase transformations, and how these evolution pathways govern macroscopic properties of energy-related materials.
Currently, her group is investigating how the mechanical straining of intercalation electrodes can circumvent their structural degradation upon repeated cycling. While suppressing chemo-mechanical degradation has been a longstanding problem, her group's work initiates a new line of research by using mechanical stress states and crystallographic microstructures to regulate the energy landscape in intercalation materials and to thus improve their lifespans. In other lines of research, her group is trying to understand the origins of hysteresis in magnetic alloys and are developing mathematical models to understand how the interplay between fundamental magnetic constants, energy barriers, and microstructural instabilities governs magnetic hysteresis. Broadly, her group uses advanced quantitative methods to answer new questions about phase transformation mechanisms and macroscopic material response.
Dr. Renuka Balakrishna is coming to UC Santa Barbara Materials from USC where she currently is an Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. She earned her Ph.D. in Solid Mechanics and Materials Engineering at the University of Oxford, and pursued postdoctoral research as a Lindemann Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Minnesota.