Helen Chan and Richard Vinci have been awarded a continuing grant from the NSF for their research on the mechanical behavior of metal-oxide composites.
A material with nanometer-sized internal features can have remarkable properties, such as high strength (when compared to the same material with larger features). However, it can be difficult to create such materials with these nanometer-scale features at an affordable cost and in large quantities. Their research is focused on a new route for creating materials with nanometer-scale layers of ceramics and metals that have the potential to possess unusual and advantageous mechanical properties and to be processed at a reasonable cost.
Electron microscopy techniques and specialized small-scale mechanical tests are revealing the role of the ceramics-metal interfaces, the orientation of the individual phases, and the size of the phases on mechanical properties. The results are providing a fundamental scientific understanding of these phenomena that can be applied to fields such as joining of ceramics and metals, creation of strong materials for load-bearing applications, and prevention of failure in microelectronic devices.