Balakumar Balachandran, Minta Martin and Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland.

Balakumar Balachandran, Minta Martin and Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland.


A team led by Minta Martin and Distinguished University Professor Balakumar Balachandran has been selected for a Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) Program Award, with sponsorship by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).  

Balachandran is leading researchers from four universities on a project entitled "Disorder-Influenced Collective Dynamics of Nonlinear Oscillator Systems." Other members of the team from UMD include Wilson Elkins Professor Miao Yu (mechanical engineering/Maryland Robotics Center/Institute for Systems Research),  and Professor Maria Cameron (mathematics). Participating universities also include the San Diego State University, University of California, Irvine, and the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Miao Yu, Wilson Elkins Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Maryland Robotics Center, and Institute for Systems Research, University of Maryland.

The overall research goal is to develop a comprehensive framework informed and enabled by dynamical systems theory, experimental investigations, and brain-inspired computing paradigms, to understand and harness disorder-influenced collective dynamics in nonlinear networks.

Collective dynamics of oscillator networks is relevant to many areas and applications, including networks of gyroscopes, precision timing devices, miniature antennas, and enhanced multi-functional sensing networks. Material advances have spurred researchers to envision, design, and fabricate smaller, faster, and energy-efficient devices. As device advancement needs grow, network systems have become attractive for overcoming limits of fundamental performance. Although the promise of harnessing collective dynamics of networks is appealing, disorder effects that arise due to parameters and/or noise remain to be fully investigated. Furthermore, a well-developed theoretical framework is necessary to better understand disorder-influenced collective dynamics of networks of nonlinear oscillators.

Professor Maria K. Cameron, Department of Mathematics, University of Maryland.

The team plans to employ equivariant bifurcation theory, study different network models with disorder, construct mathematical and computational tools for large oscillator networks, and conduct experimental studies with Josephson junction networks, optomechanical oscillator networks, heterogeneous optical resonator networks, and mechanical oscillator arrays.

The research outcomes, which will include the development of a  foundational basis to understand disorder-influenced dynamics in complex systems, can benefit a wide range of systems and applications (e.g., optical sensing systems, coupled inertial navigation sensor systems, precision timing systems, chip scale nano-photonic devices, fluxgate magnetometers, Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs), and communication devices).

Professor Balachandran is a faculty member of the UMD Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computing Program. He is a recipient of major  honors from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (Melville Medal, Den Hartog Award, Lyapunov Award), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Pendray Aerospace Literature Award), and the American Society of Civil Engineers (Robert Scanlan Medal). His publications include a Wiley book entitled Applied Nonlinear Dynamics: Analytical, Computational, and Experimental Methods (1995, 2004). He is a Fellow of ASME, AIAA and the Royal Aeronautical Society. Balachandran chaired the UMD mechanical engineering department, which is part of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, from 2011 to 2023.

The MURI program supports interdisciplinary science and engineering research, with the goal of stimulating innovation, accelerating research progress, and expediting the transition from research to application.  This year, the DoD will distribute $221 million in awards to 30 teams from 73 academic institutions.

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