This project investigates the mechanical integrity of a new breed of multifunctional ceramic composites with advanced properties such as low density, high strength, and high thermal stability. Potential applications for these novel materials include porous membranes for separation processes, heterogeneous solid catalysts, corrosion-resistant coatings, insulation system parts, and low carbon footprint concrete alternatives. This research formulates new design rules for damage-tolerant novel ceramic materials and new standards for quality assessment of material components. The research activities provide training for undergraduate and graduate students in nanomaterials science, advanced mechanics, and nanotechnology. This research supports the organization of high school science outreach workshops in collaboration will local high schools to promote the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups into science and engineering disciplines.

TECHNICAL DETAILS: This project investigates the premature failure of advanced aluminosilicate nanocomposites due to prolonged exposure to low-level repetitive loadings. This is an important issue as early failure usually results in shortened service lifetimes and increased maintenance costs of components. Using cutting-edge nanoscale depth-sensing methods, this research seeks to generate new microstructure-performance relationships. The knowledge generated could lead to new materials design rules and thus accelerate the insertion of aluminosilicate nanohybrids in science and engineering applications. The research rests on a strong partnership between industry (Anton Paar) and academia (Northwestern University) leading to a joint academia-industry workshop focused on advances in surface mechanical characterization. This research contributes to a skilled and diverse workforce through research internship opportunities for undergraduate students and training opportunities for graduate students.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Lynnette Madsen
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Northwestern University at Chicago
United States
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