The objective of this CAREER research and education plan is to study a novel ceramic ZnO nanowire interface recently identified by the PI to study the role of a nanowire interphase on the mechanical and multifunctional properties of a fiber reinforced composite. This fundamental study will develop a theory defining the translation of the properties from the nanowire interface to the macroscopic response and characterize the failure mechanism of the interface. Both experimental and theoretical analyses will be employed to study the structure-property relationships of the interface and their influence on the material?s mechanical and functional response.
The intellectual merit of this research extends beyond carbon fiber composites with potential scientific findings that can be applied to continuous and discontinuous fiber reinforced metal and ceramic matrix composites. The effort may also lead to new methods for functionally grading other interfaces such as those found in prosthetics and biological implants leading to new biologically inspired interfaces which rarely exhibit discrete boundaries between two materials of vastly different mechanical properties. Fundamental advances in the modeling of composite systems with active nanoscale inclusions in the interphase will be accomplished, resulting in future applications of this technology, ranging from self-monitoring biological implants to energy harvesting structures.
The educational component of this CAREER plan is designed to transfer state-of-the-art research to the classroom and enhance engineering recruitment and retention by targeting students from middle school to graduate level. A Family Engineering Night (FEN) has been planned which will incorporate ASU undergraduates from four minority student groups, a research-driven course in nano and multi-scale composites, and the continuation of a strong undergraduate research program. The purpose is to enhance recruitment and retention of engineers, including minorities and underrepresented groups, and motivate students to commit to a life-long process of learning and sustained involvement in science and engineering fields.