Professor Mao‘s research interests span the areas of soft condensed matter, materials physics, and statistical mechanics. Her current research mainly runs along two lines: a unified view of soft elasticity and fundamental rules of self-assembly. The project on soft elasticity centers around the idea of isostaticity, i.e., the point where the numbers of degrees of freedom and constraints of a system become equal. The isostatic point not only exhibit rich physics itself such as floppy modes, criticality, and conformal invariance, but also plays an important role in a broad-range of real materials such as jammed solids, glasses, fiber networks, framework-structure crystals, et cetera. Professor Mao’s group extensively investigates the physics of the isostatic point and the design of novel materials based on isostaticity. The project of self-assembly is mainly concerned with the fundamental physics of the spontaneous formation of open structures in both materials engineering and nature. Borrowing tools from condensed matter physics, Professor Mao’s group focuses on problems such as entropic effects in the selection of open structures and novel designs of self-assembled materials.
Isostaticity, Auxetic Response, Surface Modes, and Conformal Invariance in Twisted Kagome Lattices, (K. Sun, A. Souslov, X. Mao, and T. C. Lubensky), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109, 12369 (2012).
Criticality and Isostaticity in Fiber Networks, (C. P. Broedersz, X. Mao, F.C. MacKintosh and T. C. Lubensky), Nature Physics 7, 983 (2011).
Soft Modes and Elasticity of Nearly Isostatic Lattices: Randomness and Dissipation, (X. Mao, N. Xu, and T. C. Lubensky), Physical Review Letters 104, 085504 (2010).
Soft Random Solids and Their Heterogeneous Elasticity, (X. Mao, P. M. Goldbart, X. Xing and A. Zippelius), Physical Review E 80, 031140 (2009).
Cavity Approach to the Random Solid State, (X. Mao, P. M. Goldbart, M. Mézard and M. Weigt), Physical Review Letters 95, 148302 (2005).