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Designing better materials for the 21st Century
Date:8/7/2014

The U.S. Defense Department recently named Jian Luo, professor of nanoengineering and materials science and engineering at the University of California, San Diego as one of 10 new National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows (NSSEFF). The award provides up to $3 million over five years to develop a new materials design tool called interfacial phase diagrams.

The NSSEFF program is the largest single principal investigator basic research grant funded within the Department of Defense to support top-tier researchers from U.S. universities to conduct long-term, unclassified, basic research.

Interfacial phase diagrams enable scientists to tailor the processing and properties of engineering materials. Luo believes this basic research can also help to design better materials for applications in energy generation and storage.

Luo's project focuses on developing structural materials, including molybdenum-based high-temperature alloys and zirconia-based structural ceramics for aerospace and naval applications.

A piece of ice melts at 0 degrees Celsius, but a nanometer-thick layer on the surface of ice can melt at tens of degrees below zero. This phenomenon of stabilization of nanoscale liquid-like interfacial "phases" below the normal bulk melting temperatures, known as "premelting," was first recognized by the physicist Michael Faraday in 1842.

Since then, materials scientists have discovered that the surfaces and interfaces in engineered materials can exhibit more complex phase-like behaviors at high temperatures, which can affect the fabrication and properties of a broad range of metallic alloys and ceramic materials. Phase diagrams provide the basic information on the phase stability and the conditions for phase transitions. For example, the ice-water phase transition occurs at 0 degrees Celsius in the ambient atmosphere. Since interfaces can undergo transitions such as premelting at conditions differ
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Contact: Catherine Hockmuth
chockmuth@ucsd.edu
858-822-1359
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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