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Yanfei Gao



Dr. Gao earned his bachelor’s degree with the highest honor in the Department of Engineering Mechanics (with a dual degree in Computer Science), Tsinghua University, Beijing, China in 1999, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, New Jersey, in 2001 and 2003, respectively. In 3/2003-7/2005, Dr. Gao worked as a post-doctoral research associate in solid mechanics group, Brown University. Since joining UT/ORNL in 8/2005, Dr. Gao has built up his research group on plasticity at small length scales, thin-film growth, contact and friction, and modeling and simulation of deformation and failure mechanisms, among many others. Most of these projects are motivated from his colleagues’ experiments at UT and ORNL. Dr. Gao is a Joint Faculty at the Materials Science and Technology Division, ORNL. When promoted to full professor in 8/2016, Dr. Gao has authored or co-authored about 100 journal papers (including 9 invited contributions) and has made about 50 invited presentations at national/international conferences and academic institutions.


  • Small scale mechanical behavior
  • Thin film heterostructures
  • Deformation and failure processes in advanced structural materials
  • Computational mechanics of materials


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
  • 2010, 2013 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


Y.F. Gao*, H. Bei*, “Strength statistics of single crystals and metallic glasses under small stressed volumes.” Progress in Materials Science, vol. 82, pp. 118-150, 2016 [DOI].

Y.F. Gao*, B.C. Larson, “Displacement fields and self-energies of circular and polygonal dislocation loops in homogeneous and layered anisotropic solids.” Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, vol. 83, pp. 104-128, 2015 [DOI].

Y.H. Zhang, Y.F. Gao, L. Nicola*, “Lattice rotation caused by wedge indentation of a single crystal: dislocation dynamics compared to crystal plasticity simulations.” Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, vol. 68, pp. 267-279, 2014 [DOI].

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W.D. Li, H. Bei*, Y. Tong, W. Dmowski, Y.F. Gao*, “Structural heterogeneity induced plasticity in bulk metallic glasses: From well-relaxed fragile glass to metal-like behavior.” Applied Physics Letters, vol. 103, iss. 17, 171910, 2013 [DOI].

S.F. Li, X.J. Zhao, X.S. Xu, Y.F. Gao*, Z.Y. Zhang*, “Stacking principle and magic sizes of transition metal nanoclusters based on generalized Wulff construction.” Physical Review Letters, vol. 111, iss. 11, 115501, 2013 [DOI].

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].

L.L. Zheng, Y.F. Gao*, S.Y. Lee, R.I. Barabash, J.H. Lee, P.K. Liaw, “Intergranular strain evolution near fatigue crack tips in polycrystalline metals.” Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, vol. 59, iss. 11, pp. 2307-2322, 2011 [DOI].

T.L. Li, Y.F. Gao*, H. Bei, E.P. George, “Indentation Schmid factor and orientation dependence of nanoindentation pop-in behavior of NiAl single crystals.” Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, vol. 59, iss. 6, pp. 1147-1162, 2011 [DOI].

Y.F. Gao*, “A Peierls perspective on mechanisms of atomic friction.” Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, vol. 58, iss. 12, pp. 2023-2032, 2010 [DOI].

Y.F. Gao*, H.T. Xu, W.C. Oliver, G.M. Pharr, “Effective elastic modulus of film-on-substrate systems under normal and tangential contact.” Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, vol. 56, iss. 2, pp. 402-416, 2008 [DOI].

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