Steve Cranford

Doctorate Student

Office: 1-131
Phone number: N/A
Fax: 617-324-4014

Research Focus

I have an interest in advanced and novel structural materials at the continuum and atomistic scale. To push a material to the very limit, and thus design and engineer efficiently, the fundamental behavior of materials must be grounded in a multiscale theoretical foundation ranging from the atomistic to the continuum level.

I am a member of CMSE IRG at MIT developing a new class of "mechanomutable heteronanomaterials" -materials that can actively and reversibly change their mechanical properties in response to an external stimulus. The ultimate goal is to explore the possibility of utilizing these materials as high-throughput, high spatial sensitivity tunable sensors (e.g. for cells, proteins, localized impacts, pressure in liquids, etc.)

I am currently working on modeling and simulation of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) at the mesoscale level. Using LAMMPS Molecular Dynamic Simulator, an array of CNTs can be modeled and their mechanical properties investigated. Although much research has been done in the area of carbon nanotubes, the same techniques can be implemented for new polymer nanotubes using a ground-up approach. The results from such mesoscale simulations can be used to determine parameters at the continuum level.

LAMMPS Simulation of a mechanomutable CNT Array (900 tubes at 30Å)

Single Wall Carbon Nanotube


My undergraduate work was concentrated mainly on structural analysis. However, I had the chance to do some hands-on research on the use of fibre-reinforced polymer reinforcement in concrete structural elements. This stimulated an interest in new materials research. My master's level work gave me the opportunity to develop the tools required for such an endeavor – namely structural dynamics, continuum mechanics, and finite element analysis. Determining the properties of any material requires a fundamental understanding of the behavior at an atomistic scale. It is this level of understanding that I wish to pursue while at MIT.


2008 - Present: Ph.D. student at MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
2006 - 2008: Master's of Science in Civil Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California
2000 - 2006: Bachelor of Engineering (Civil), Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada


  • Schoettler Graduate Fellowship, MIT 2008
  • School of Engineering Graduate Fellowship, Stanford University, 2006-2008
  • University Medal, Civil Engineering, Memorial University, 2006
  • PEG-NL Award of Excellence, Memorial University, 2006
  • NSERC Undergraduate Research Awards, 2004 and 2005
  • Dr. Leslie Harris Alumni Scholarship, Memorial University, 2000-2004


  • S. Cranford, M.J. Buehler, Mechanomutable Carbon Nanotube Arrays, in submission to: International Journal of Material and Structural Integrity
  • ATC-63 Project Report, Quantification of Building Seismic Performance Factors, (Nonlinear Dynamic Analysis Working Group Contributor), FEMA P965, April 2008


Copyright (c) 1999-2008 Markus J. Buehler. All rights reserved.