The goal of this research project is to elucidate the behavior of nanotwinned structures under extreme environments due to irradiation and high temperatures. As nuclear power plays an increasingly vital role in meeting our demand for energy in an environmentally acceptable manner, the design of structural materials that can sustain extreme radiation environments is a critical challenge for future nuclear power systems. Recently, a new class of nanomaterials known as nanotwinned metals has shown extraordinary structural properties such as ultra-high yield strength, high ductility, and enhanced stability at high temperatures. Thus, their optimal design could lead to a possibly enhanced performance of nanotwinned metals as next-generation radiation-resistant materials. Employing multi-scale computational methods and atomistic simulations, the project will address fundamental questions pertaining to the response of nanostructured materials to radiation effects caused by formation and interaction of point defects. This project also investigates critical issues, namely, creep and grain growth, that become dominant mechanisms of deformation in nanostructured metals at elevated temperatures.
The research will contribute to several important areas of nanostructured metal science and technology by providing insight into the deformation mechanisms governing their behavior under extreme conditions. It aims to lead to a synergy among experimental, analytical and manufacturing efforts for the optimal design of novel nanomaterials for critical structural applications such as nuclear reactors and storage facilities, defense and biomedical applications. Moreover, graduate and undergraduate students working on the project would develop a strong foundation in the highly multidisciplinary areas of nanomechanics and computational materials science.