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Yanfei Gao



Prof. Gao graduated with the highest honor from Tsinghua University (Beijing) in 1999 with a BS in Engineering Mechanics and a Dual BS in Computer Science. He then obtained his MA and PhD degrees in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University (New Jersey) in 2001 and 2003, respectively. From 3/2003-7/2005, Dr. Gao worked as a post-doctoral research associate in the solid mechanics group at Brown University (Rhode Island). Since joining UT/ORNL in 8/2005, Dr. Gao has built up his research group on theoretical and computational studies of small scale mechanical behavior, failure of advanced structural materials, thin film heterostructures, and contact and friction. He was also a Joint Faculty member with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2005-2018. By 8/2020, Prof. Gao has authored or co-authored about 150 journal papers (including 19 in Acta Materialia and 14 in Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids) and has made over 70 invited presentations at national/international conferences and academic institutions (including 2 invited talks at Gordon Research Conferences).      


  • Analytical and computational mechanics of materials
  • small scale mechanical behavior
  • failure of advanced structural materials
  • thin film heterostructures
  • contact and friction


Ph.D., Princeton University: Small Scale Mechanical Behavior, Defects and Friction, Nanoscale Thin Film Heterostructures, Computational Materials Science

Professional Service

  • The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS), Member since 2006
  • Materials Research Society (MRS), Member since 2003
  • The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Member since 2001

Awards and Recognitions

2015 University of Tennessee, College of Engineering, Professional Promise in Research Award

2013, 2010 University of Tennessee, College of Engineering, Research Fellow Award

2010 University of Tennessee, Chancellor’s Award for Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement

2010 Co-winner, R&D 100 award on High-Performance, High-Tc Superconducting Wires Enabled via Self-Assembly of Non-Superconducting Columnar Defects(with A. Goyal et al. at ORNL)

1999 Gold Medal in Hammer Throw, the 1999 John Ma Campus Games, Tsinghua University


  1. W. Zhang, Y.F. Gao*, Z.L. Feng*, X. Wang, S. Zhang, L. Huang, Z.W. Huang*, L. Jiang*, "Ductility limit diagrams for superplasticity and forging of high temperature polycrystalline materials." Acta Materialia, vol. 194, pp. 378-386, August 2020 [DOI].
  2. J.X. Wen, R. Cao*Y.F. Gao*, "Mysterious failure in load-free superalloys under repeated thermal shocks," Acta Materialia, vol. 194, pp. 276-282, August 2020 [DOI]
  3. C. Pu, Y.F. Gao*, Y.L. Wang, T.L. Sham, "Diffusion-coupled cohesive interface simulations of stress-corrosion intergranular cracking in polycrystalline materials." Acta Materialia, vol. 136, pp. 21-31, September 2017 [DOI
  4. W. Zhang, Y.F. Gao*, Y.Z. Xia, H. Bei, "Indentation Schmid factor and incipient plasticity by nanoindentation pop-in tests in hexagonal close-packed single crystals." Acta Materialia, vol. 134, pp. 53-65, August 2017 [DOI]
  5. Z. Wu, Y.F. Gao*, H. Bei*, "Thermal activation mechanisms and Labusch-type strengthening analysis for a family of high-entropy and equiatomic solid-solution alloys." Acta Materialia, vol. 120, pp. 108-119, November 2016 [DOI]
  6. S.Y. Huang, Y.F. Gao*, K. An, L.L. Zheng, W. Wu, Z.K. Teng, P.K. Liaw *, "Deformation mechanisms in a precipitation-strengthened ferritic superalloy revealed by in situ neutron diffraction studies at elevated temperatures." Acta Materialia, vol. 83, pp. 137-148, January 2015 [DOI]
  7. J.H. Lee, Y.F. Gao*, K.E. Johanns, G.M. Pharr, "Cohesive interface simulations of indentation cracking as a fracture toughness measurement method for brittle materials." Acta Materialia, vol. 60, iss. 15, pp. 5448-5467, 2012 [DOI]
  8. Y.F. Gao*, L. Wang, H. Bei, T.G. Nieh, "On the shear band direction in metallic glasses." Acta Materialia, vol. 59, pp. 4159-4167, 2011 [DOI]

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