Gabriel Plummer

Nanoscale Deformation Mechanisms of Layered Crystalline Solids


Gabriel is a third year CoorsTek fellow, having joined the Computational Materials Science and Design (CMSD) group of Dr. Garritt Tucker in 2018. Prior to this, he completed his BS and MS degrees in Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel University, graduating as valedictorian of his class. His MS thesis focused on the effects of defects and chemical composition on the fundamental mechanical strength of 2D materials. His current research focus in the CMSD group is the development of atomistic models for layered crystalline materials, with the goal of using these models to further our fundamental understanding of their unique mechanical properties and deformation mechanisms. This work has thus far resulted in publications in both Physical Review B and Materials Today with experimental collaborators in the US and Europe.


Layered crystalline solids (LCSs), which include common materials such as graphite, mica, and ice, possess strong in-plane bonding and comparatively weak out-of-plane bonding. Their layered structure results in a number of unique mechanical properties such as deformation by kinking, damage tolerance, and nonlinear elasticity. Among the most-studied LCSs are the MAX phases, a large family of ternary metal carbides and nitrides noted for their potential applications in extreme temperature and corrosion environments. To date, the lack of fundamental mechanistic insights has limited the engineering of MAX phases for specific applications. However, our recent development of the first atomistic model for these materials is providing novel understanding into the nanoscale nature of their unique properties. Atomistic modeling has allowed for a detailed description of the nanoscale mechanisms responsible for deformation by kinking in MAX phases and other LCSs, a hundred-year-old problem in crystal plasticity. Further work is now focused on how these mechanisms contribute to the reversible energy dissipation associated with kinking and how they can be leveraged to engineer more application-specific MAX phases.