Dr. Ran Tao is a materials scientist in the Materials Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD. Her research experience includes structural and mechanical characterization of polymeric materials, nanocomposites, fiber-reinforced composites, small molecular glass-forming liquids, and complex fluids. She specializes in using advanced rheological techniques and thermal analysis tools to address various materials science challenges in protective applications, semiconductor advanced packaging, additive manufacturing, and beyond. She is passionate about exploring novel measurement capabilities and simulation tools to solve problems in both fundamental and applied research. Recently, Dr. Tao has developed calibration methods for orthogonal superposition rheology, a technique used to measure microstructures and dynamics in complex fluids and soft matter. Dr. Tao is the lead author of over 10 peer-reviewed journal papers in the areas of polymer physics and materials characterization (Google Scholar).
Currently, Dr. Tao is working on the Metrologies for Non-linear Materials in Impact Mitigation Project. Her research mainly focuses on two areas: 1. New metrologies development to assess the flow field and energy dissipation in impact mitigating materials. This involves developing a high-speed ultrasound imaging platform for impact experiments and improving drop tower testing method for impact-resistant foams and composites; 2. Structure-property relationship investigation of complex fluids and soft materials for use in protective applications. For this project, she works closely with collaborators at UChicago to develop mechanically robust and thermally reversible materials with dynamic covalent bonds.
Additionally, Dr. Tao is studying the cure-dependent properties of thermosetting polymers used as encapsulation materials for semiconductors packaging. She collaborates closely with Prof. Bongtae Han at UMD to address pressing challenges in chip manufacturing and reliability prediction. In this effort, Dr. Tao leverages her expertise in thermal analysis to perform comprehensive and rigorous cure kinetics analysis of advanced multi-resin epoxy molding compounds for improved predictive modeling, molding process optimization, and enhanced manufacturing productivity.
Previously at NIST, Dr. Tao conducted research on ballistic witness materials (BWMs) as part of NIST's Personal Body Armor Project. In that effort, she developed a lab-scale rheological protocol to measure the effects of strain and strain rate on the backing materials used in body armor testing. More recently, she has completed a study on the thermophysical characterization of these materials. Findings from this study establish fundamental structure-property relationships in the candidate BWMs, providing valuable insights for the future development of documentary standards related to body armor testing.
PMSE Young Investigator Award, American Chemical Society, 2022
MML Accolade, NIST, 2020
NATAS Student Award, North American Thermal Analysis Society, 2013
TTU Chancellor's Graduate Fellowship, Texas Tech University, 2010-2014
SCU Distinguished Graduate Award, Sichuan University, 2009