Dr. Ran Tao is an associate research 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 different materials science challenges. She is passionate about exploring novel measurement capabilities and simulation tools to solve problems in both fundamental and applied research. Dr. Tao has recently developed calibration methods for orthogonal superposition rheology, a technique to measure microstructures and dynamics in complex fluids and soft mater. Dr. Tao is the leading author of 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; 2. Structure-property relationship investigation on complex fluids and soft materials for use in protective applications. For this project, she works closely with collaborators at UChicago to develop new mechanically robust, thermally reversible materials with dynamic covalent bonds. In addition to the Impact Mitigation Project, Dr. Tao is investigating the cure-dependent properties of thermosetting polymers used as encapsulation materials for semiconductors packaging. She works closely with collaborators at UMD to address pressing challenges in chip manufacturing on curing process optimization and reliability prediction.
Previously at NIST, Dr. Tao studied 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 of backing materials for body armor testing. More recently, she has completed a study on the thermophysical characterization of those materials, which provides crucial fundamental structure-property relationships in the candidate BWM for the future development of documentary standards related to body armor testing.