Dr. Qi’s research falls in the general area of finite deformation multiphsyics modeling of soft active materials. The material systems include: shape memory polymers, shape memory elastomeric composites, light activated polymers, covalent adaptive network polymers (or vitrimers). Particularly, he is interested in understanding and modeling the evolution of material structure and mechanical properties of these materials under environmental stimuli, such as temperature, light, etc, and during material processing, such as 3D printing. To assist understanding of mechanical properties, his group routinely conducts thermomechanical or photo-mechanical experiments. Constitutive models developments are typically based on the observations from these experiments. The ultimate goal of the constitutive models is to integrate them with finite element through user material subroutines so that these models can be used to solve complicated 3D multiphysics problems involving nonlinear mechanics.
His current research projects include 4D printing of active materials, mechanics in 3D printing technology, active polymer design and manufacturing, reprocessing and recycling polymers. For 3D/4D printing, his group is developing 3D hybrid printing methods by using a variety of 3D printing technologies, such as inkjet, Stereolithography (SLA), Direct Ink Write (DiW), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), to print active and functional materials, such as shape memory polymers, liquid crystal elastomers, conductive polymers, epoxies, and cellulose nanocrystals. For reprocessing and recycling polymers, his group is developing methods and technologies to recycling thermosetting polymers and composites, such as fiber reinforced epoxy composites. These projects are conducted through supports by NSF and AFOSR, and through collaborations with Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL).