P. Alex Greaney

Computational Materials Science at UC Riverside

Using a combination of theory and simulation we aim to understand and address fundamental problems in materials science. We apply the understanding we gain towards designing materials that impact the way we live⏤smart materials for chemical sensing, nanostructured materials, and materials for energy efficiency.

We believe that computationally based investigation is a true “third pillar” of science, and that when performed well can lead to new insights that are less easily attained by either theory and experiment alone. With the ever decreasing cost of computing power and rapid advances in algorithm development, the role of computation in scientific investigation is becoming ever more prominent.

Currently our research interests are focused on thermal and mechanical properties of nanostructured materials and devices. This includes finding new ways of controlling heat and new ways of adding value to heat, as well as invention of new nanoscale devices and ways of computationally assessing such devices.

University of California at Riverside Seal

P. Alex Greaney, Assistant Professor

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Materials Science & Engineering

greaney@ucr.edu

Research Projects

We are working to understand how the architecture of gecko's feet enables them to stick to walks, and to quickly unstick.

The underside of a gecko's foot

We seek to understand the structure, and corresponding electrochemical properties, of various forms of amorphous carbon for use as the anode material in low cost sodium-ion batteries that could be used for grid-scale energy storage.

Hard carbon: nano-domains of crumpled and twisted graphene

We are developing new methods to get computers to design new materials with emergent multifunctional properties. These methods are based on formalizing a molecular designe space as a decision tree and using advanced machine learning tree search methods such as those used in Googles's AlphaGo.

Decision tree for molecular design

We are studying methods for engineering smart or tunable thermal properties in metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). These materials have a molecular spacefame construction which enable a host of new and exotic vibrational behavior.

MOF-5 filled with hydrogen

We are studying the phenomenon of fragility in glass forming metal alloys. Fragility, non-Arrhenius temperature dependence in the liquid's viscosity, correlates with the alloys' ductility when cooled to form a bulk metallic glass.

Atomic simulation of a 4 component metallic glass

We are adapting numerical methods for modeling neutron transport in nuclear reactors for modeling heat transport by phonons. Or goal is the creation of tools to predict thermal conductivity in irradiated materials with evolving microstructure.

Phonon flux in UO2 impinging on a Xe bubble

We are working to understand ion storage and ion transport in materials for advanced batteries such as dual ion batteries. These batteries aim to low cost and high cycle-ability for bulk energy storage.

The crystal structure of PTCDA

We are working to design materials that change shape actuated by molecules that change shape in response to light.

Force output from constrained azobenzene

We are working to develop a new framework for modeling plasticity and creep in high temperature superalloys. Our approach is based on the discrete element method, a method for modeling granular materials such as sand and rock.

DEM models of tensile test specimens

Thermoelectrics are materials that convert a temperature difference directly into an electrical current with no moving parts. We are working to create high efficiency thermoelectric silicon which is cheep and widely abundant.

Phonon collision with SiC dispersoid in Si

The Greaney Group

Laura de Sousa Oliveira
Laura de Sousa Oliveira
Ph.D Student

BS in Physics and Mathematics with minors in Hispanic Studies and Electrical Engineering from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. PhD from UCR in Mechanical Engineering specializing in Computational Materials Science.

Laura's research interests include understanding transport phenomena at an atomistic scale, which she does via a mix of classical molecular dynamics and density functional theory codes, some other software, her own codes and the codes of her collaborator buddies. Her focus to date has been on phonon thermal transport. Recently she has been working on a fascinating project for high-throughput molecular design of metal–organic frameworks and has acquired a taste for photochemistry.

Laura was born in Loulé, Portugal. When she is not working, Laura enjoys thinking about life, the universe and everything.

Woochul Shin
Woochul Shin
PhD student in ChemistryAdvised by Prof. David (Xiulei) Ji

BS in Materials Science & Engineering from Hanyang University, MS in Materials Science & Engineering from Northwestern University

Constructing and designing novel electrode structure for lithium ion and post-lithium ion batteries based on structure-property-performance relationships.

Always wanted to be a comedian when I was a teenager since I had (even now) a very suitable face for that.

Wesley Surta
Wesley Surta
PhD Student in ChemistryAdvised by Prof. Michelle Dolgos

BS in Chemistry from Fort Lewis College

Crystallography! He enjoys shooting X-rays at anything he can and neutrons are even better.

Wesley has started a number of businesses including a t-shirt company and company booking and promoting concerts. That forced him to work a lot of different kinds of jobs to make ends meet, such as a hydraulic mechanic, carpenter, cook, and pizza boy. These jobs ultimately motivated him to go to graduate school and pursue his PhD, because he would rather work smarter than harder——little did he realize he would have to work smarter and harder.

Charlie Manion
Charlie Manion
PhD Student in Mechanical EngineeringMinor in RoboticsAdvised by Prof. Matt Campbell

BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas, Austin

Designing molecular materials that can change shape.

Originally from Texas, Charlie's expertise lies at the intersection of engineering design and molecular simulation. One of Charlie's ambitions in life is to design molecular Strandbeests.

Agnieszka Truszkowska
Agnieszka Truszkowska
Postdoc

BS in Biotechnology from University of Belgrade, PhD in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics from Oregon State University

Deformation and plasticity, granular mechanics, discrete element modeling, and solid fluid interactions.

Although origionally from Poland Agnieskza considers Belgrade here second home. Agnieszka loves programming and computers, and when not making Balkan pastries, reads books on computer architecture to unwind. Her goal in life is to play football (soccer) for Barcelona.

Luping Han
Luping Han
PhD student in Mechanical Engineering

BS in Materials Science

Thermal transport in metal-organic frameworks.

Originally from Heilongjiang in China. When not running simulations Luping is out catching his dinner spearfishing and scuba diving.

Wenxi Huang
Wenxi Huang
PhD student in Materials Science & Engineering

BS in Materials Science from Tongji University, MS in Materials Science & Engineering from Oregon State University

Thermal transport in metal-organic frameworks. Ion conduction in battery electrodes

Originally from Houbei in central China.

Jude Ighere
Jude Ighere
PhD student in Materals Science & Engineering

BS in Chemical Engineering from Federal University of Benin, MS in Mechanical and Material Engineering from Howard University.

Engineering thermal properties of zirconium diboride.

Originally from Nigeria, Jude works full time as a quality assurance engineer for Intel in Portland OR, and is studying for his PhD on the side.

Aria Hosseini
Aria Hosseini
PhD student in Mechanical Engineering

Transport theory, and high ZT silicon based thermoelectric materials

Jackson Harter
Jackson Harter
Group affiliate:PhD student in Nuclear EngineeringAdvised by Prof. Todd Palmer

BS in Nuclear Engineering from Oregon State University in 2013; MS in Nuclear Engineering with a minor in Materials Science & Engineering from Oregon State University in 2015.

Transport theory and simulating phonon transport with a modified form of the Boltzmann transport equation.

Worked for several years as a professional chef including teaching at the Portland Culinary Institue. Thinks that sometimes science is more art than an algorithm, a lot of people don't get that.

P. Alex Greaney
P. Alex Greaney
Principal Investigator (The Boss)

MEng in Metallurgy and the Science of Materials from Oxford, PhD in Materials Science & Engineering from the UC Berkeley; Postdoc at LBNL and MIT

Theory and simulation of materials, particularly computational design of materials and elucidation of structure-property relationships relating to mechanical thermal and transport properties of materials.

Grew up in the UK. Likes to cook with xanthan gum. Once converted a motorcycle to run on wood.

Tina Mirzaei
Tina Mirzaei
PhD Student

BS in Materials Science & Engineering from University of Tehran

Mechanics of Materials, Lithium Ion Batteries, Thermal properties in Materials and Glasses,

Weiyi Zhang
Weiyi Zhang
PhD student in Material Science & Engineering

BS in Applied Physics from the University of Science and Technology of China

Computational design of materials

Love Arts and Musics while not working

Pegah Mirabedini
Pegah Mirabedini
PhD Student in Material Science & Engineering

BSc in Material Science & Engineering from Iran University of Science and Technology.

Pegah’s research interests include understanding the crystal structure of materials, thermal and mechanical properties of materials, biomimetics, energy storage and batteries.

Pegah loves painting, and participating in group activities. She enjoys discovering new things!

Jeremy Valdecanas
Jeremy Valdecanas
Undergraduate Researcher

Pursuing an BS in Materials Science & Engineering

Discriminating molecules with fingerprints.

Part of the UCR bladesmithing team working to build a trip hammer.

Andres Sanchez Paredes
Andres Sanchez Paredes
Undergraduate Researcher

Pursuing an BS in Mechanical Engineering

Machine learning and artificial neural networks applied to the behavior of molecules.

Electronica aficionado.

Edward Koh
Edward Koh
Student at MLK Jr. High School in Riverside.

Uncovering the structure-property relationships in Discriminating molecules with fingerprints.

When Edward is not programming he loves to play tennis and is on the tennis team.

Henri
Henri
Mouser

PhD in string theory (and other cat toys)

Thermal resistance of recumbent-feline guard-hairs, keyboard ergonomics

Grew up in the Bay Area. Informal science training in the backyard sheds. A 16 yr old veteran mouser and transcontinental traveler, Henri has lived with Dr. Greaney since his days in Berkeley, CA. Henri works from home, and can usually be found napping on Dr. Greaney's desk.

Giuseppe Romano
Giuseppe Romano
Visiting ScholarResearch Scientist at MIT

Boltzmann transport simulation

Giuseppe is from Italy, but has been living in Cambrighe MA since 2010. He loves to entertain friends playing the piano.

Greaney Group Alumni

Clem Bommier
Clem Bommier
PhD student in ChemistryAdvised by Prof. David (Xiulei) Ji

BS in Chemistry from SUNY, PhD in Chemistry from Oregon State University

Anythng to do with batteries and electrochemical energy storage.

Clem is French, but he has not let it hold him back in life, and he is now working as a postdoc with Dan Steingart at Prinston.

Rajesh Saranam
Rajesh Saranam
MS Student

Congcon Hu
Congcon Hu
MS Student

Ian Winter
Ian Winter
Undergraduate Student

Daniel Leonard
Daniel Leonard
Visiting Student from France

Tassilo Selover-Stephan
Tassilo Selover-Stephan
Undergraduate Student

Zihchao Yu
Zihchao Yu
MS Student

Devon Frazier
Devon Frazier
Undergraduate Student

Makenzie Budge
Makenzie Budge
Undergraduate Student

Jason Castaneda
Jason Castaneda
Undergraduate Student

Publications

Teaching

Crystal Structure & Bonding
MSE 210

University of California, Riverside

Nanoscale Heat Transfer & Energy Conversion
ME 244/MSE 238

University of California, Riverside

Mechanical Behavior of Materials
ME 156

University of California, Riverside

Computational Methods in Materials Science
MATS 588/ME 588

Oregon State University

Structure-Property Relations in Materials
ME 570/MATS 570

Oregon State University

Mechanics of Materials
ME 316

Oregon State University

Dislocations, Deformation, & Creep
ME 587

Oregon State University

Outreach

Saturday Academy's Appreticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) Program

The Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) Program matches high school freshmen,sophomores, and juniors with scientists and engineers for 8-week summer internships in a professional, scientific or engineering environment. Nikhil Anand, a high school student from Beaverton, Oregon is our ASE intern for the summer of 2014.

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program @ Portland State University

An NSF funded program that provides opportunities for undergraduate students—with an emphasis on underrepresented minorities, females, and veterans of the US armed forces—to be involved in a research project. In the summer of 2013, Jason Castaneda, an Honors College undergraduate at OSU, partipated in an 8 week research project supervised by Dr. Greaney, in collaboration with Dr. Jun Jiao at Portland State University.

Summer Experience for Science and Engineering for Youth (SESEY)

SESEY is a one-week summer program that offer a unique opportunity for high school girls and minority students with an aptitude for math and science in engineering fields. In the summer of 2013, two female high school students spent a week participating in research in the CMS group.

NanoDays

A nationwide festival of educational programs about nanoscale science and engineering and its potential impact on the future. These public engagements are designed for people of all ages and held at museums, research centers and universities. NanoDays events are organized by participants in the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE). In 2012, group members volunteered at the <a href='http://www.omsi.edu/'>Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)</a> NanoDays celebration.

Royal Society of Chemistry's Mpemba Competition

In 2012, Dr. Greaney assisted in reviewing over 22,000 entries to the RSC's Mpemba Competition, that offered £1000 to the person or team producing the best and most creative explanation of the phenomenon by which hot water sometimes freezes faster than cold water, known today as The Mpemba Effect.

Message the Greaney Group

Contact Information

UC Riverside Materials Science & Engineering Building

greaney@ucr.edu

(+1) 951-827-2884

Mail: 900 University Ave, Riverside, CA 92521, USA