Multi-Scale & Multi-Modal Characterization

Natural & artificial materials are complex and heterogenous across multiple scales. In order to characterize these systems, we are adopting a ‘multi-modal’ approach where multiple, complementary imaging techniques are used in combination for an enhanced and deeper understanding of any given material. With this approach, we are improving our understanding of a variety of materials such as clay minerals,1 rocks,2 and cements.3

1 Romero & Garg, Applied Clay Science 2022

2 Polavaram & Garg, Scientific Reports, 2021

3 Polavaram & Garg, Cement and Concrete Research, 2021


Understanding Material Degradation & Repair

Almost all engineering materials are subject to long-term degradation, necessitating replacement and repair. We are investigating a variety of degradation phenomena for concrete: ranging from water ingress to radiation damage in nuclear power plants.1, 2 On the repair and mitigation side, we are exploring numerous options such as self-healing systems, ultra-high performance concrete systems, and superhydrophobic coatings.3

1 Baral et al, Cement and Concrete Research 2022

2 Cheniour et al, Materials and Structures 2022

3 Sharma & Garg, ACS Applied Engineering Materials 2023


Low Carbon & Sustainable Construction Materials

Construction materials are an essential component of our physical infrastructure. However, when produced at a scale of billions of tons per year, these materials contribute to a significant carbon footprint. We are investigating novel recipes & AI-led routes to lower the carbon footprint of concrete, including solutions such as calcined clays, alkali-activated materials,1 and waste-to-energy ashes2 generated from combustion of municipal waste.3

1 Abdelrahman & Garg, Frontiers in Chemistry 2022

2 Kumar & Garg, Resources, Conservation, and Recycling 2022

3 Kumar & Garg, Environmental Research: Infra. & Sus. 2021

Acknowledgement: To enable projects within & across these thrusts, we acknowledge support from various external funding agencies such as the US Department of Energy (DOE), Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), and Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). We also thank our industry sponsors & partners as well as internal support units on the UIUC campus.