• Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2004
  • Ph.D., Tsinghua University, China, 1999
  • B.S., Tsinghua University, China, 1995

Research Areas and Descriptors

  • Mechanics of Materials; Mechanical behavior of solids and thin films, nanomechanics of defect in crystals, coupled mechano-chemical phenomena, fracture in ferroelectric materials, and multiscale modeling

Atomistic calculation showing stress concentration at a crack tip in single crystal of copper. Atoms in the figure are color coded by the atomic stress. (Zhu et al., Phys. Rev. Lett ., 2004)


Began at Tech in 2005 as an Assistant Professor. Prior he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.


Dr. Zhu's research focuses on the modeling and simulation of mechanical behavior of materials at the nano- to macroscale. Some of the scientific questions he is working to answer include understanding how materials fail due to the combined mechanical and chemical effects, what are the atomistic mechanisms governing the brittle to ductile transition in crystals, why the introduction of nano-sized twins can significantly increase the rate sensitivity of nano-crystals, and how domain structures affect the reliability of ferroelectric ceramics and thin films. To address these problems, which involve multiple length and time scales, he has used a variety of modeling techniques, such as molecular dynamics simulation, reaction pathway sampling, and the inter-atomic potential finite-element method. The goal of his research is to make materials modeling predictive enough to help design new materials with improved performance and reliability.


  • MIT Presidential Fellowship, 1999
  • Tsinghua University Outstanding Graduate Student, 1998

Representative Publications

  • T. Zhu and J. Li. 2010. Ultra-Strength Materials. Progress in Materials Science 55, 710-757.
  • T. Zhu, et al. 2008. Temperature and Strain-Rate Dependence of Surface Dislocation Nucleation. Physical Review Letters 100, 025502.

    T. Zhu, et al. 2007. Interfacial Plasticity Governs Strain Rate Sensitivity and Ductility in Nanostructured Metals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 104, 3031-3036.

    T. Zhu, J. Li, and S. Yip. 2004. Atomistic Study of Dislocation Loop Emission from a Crack Tip. Physical Review Letters 93, 025503.

    J. Li, et al. 2002. Atomistic Mechanism Governing Elastic Limit and Incipient Plasticity in Crystals. Nature 418, 307-310.