The focus of Dr. Jacob's research is to reveal the physical processes governing the mechanics of surfaces and interfaces.
Contacting surfaces are of critical importance in advanced manufacturing, micro-/nano-devices, and scanning probe microscopy applications. The function of such applications depends on the ability to precisely predict and control contact parameters such as contact area, contact stiffness, adhesion, and electrical and thermal transport.
His research group uses novel combinations of in situ electron microscopy, multi-scale mechanical testing, and multi-scale topography characterization to interrogate the mechanics, tribology, and functional properties of contacts. On the small scale, they achieve Angstrom-scale spatial resolution and nanonewton force resolution, to interrogate atomic-scale processes. On the large-scale, they use micro- and macro-scale testing of larger contacts that contain multi-scale surface roughness. This enables the scale-up of nanoscale insights to describe functional properties of larger-scale surfaces.
The goal is to develop quantitative, fundamental, and predictive understanding of contact behavior, which will enable tailored surface properties for advanced technologies.