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Aaron M. Forster (Fed)

Staff Scientist/Chemical Engineer

Aaron Forster is a staff scientist at NIST with over 10 years experience in mechanics and failure of polymer coatings and nanocomposites subject to environmental attack. He currently supports two research areas.

Dr. Forster is the co-technical lead for the Hierarchical Materials project. This project focuses on the characterization and modeling of electrical, diffusion, and mechanical properties of hierarchical fiber reinforced nanocomposites. Hierarchical nanocomposites have shown the ability to address challenges for better performing materials in the impact protection and structural composite communities. Developing fundamental structure-property measurements is important for supporting greater acceptance of advanced materials.   

Dr. Forster is the lead for the Metrologies for Non-linear Materials in Impact Mitigation project. This project is building a materials by design approach for soft materials used in protective applications. Novel in-situ measurements are combined with dynamic test methods to accelerate the time from concept to protective solution.  

Research Interests

  • Fracture mechanics for polymers and fiber reinforced composites
  • Hierarchical and multi-functional composites for as tough, responsive materials
  • Impact mitigation in architected soft matter via interface and viscoelastic engineering
  • Complex fluid structure in extreme loading environments

Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities can be found through the NRC Research Associateship Program. The following projects are directly available in Dr. Forster's group with proposal submissions in August and February. Please contact him for further details.


Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award 2016 "For the rapid deployment of a new capability to measure the mechanical properties of impact mitigating materials for the Head Health Challenge III"

Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award 2011 "For measurement science relating the optical, mechanical, and chemical properties of polymeric coatings to their scratch and damage resistance"

Outstanding Young Adhesion Technologist Award, The Adhesion Society, Inc.  2010 "For the application of nanoindentation to solve critical challenges in the degradation of polymeric coatings"

National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship 2002 – 2004


Activation of Mechanophores in a Thermoset Matrix by Instrumented Scratch

Chelsea S. Davis, Jeremiah Woodcock, Ryan Beams, Mitchell Rencheck, Muzhou Wang, Stephan J. Stranick, Aaron M. Forster, Jeffrey Gilman
Scratches in polymer coatings and barrier layers negatively impact optical properties (haze, light transmission, etc.), initiate routes of degradation or
Created October 9, 2019, Updated June 15, 2021