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June 6, 2016

New multilayered materials ready for take off


Materials science team pioneers new tools, methods to boost resilience in extreme heat environments

When it comes to aircraft engines, rocket motors and nuclear power plants, the "heat" is constantly on to make the parts inside stronger, more reliable and more durable. In fact, when an airplane takes off, the materials in the hottest part of the engine reach about 90 percent of their melting temperature. So, there’s always a desire to find a material that can operate at a higher temperature.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), materials scientist Tresa Pollock and a team at the University of California, Santa Barbara, are partnering with General Electric and others to develop new multilayered materials designed for high performance in extreme environments. Pollock’s team is pioneering the use of new modeling tools to speed up the development process and using advanced computer algorithms and big data analysis to hone their designs before testing them.

They've also designed and built a custom microscope that combines electron, ion and laser beams to analyze the new materials for defects at the nanometer scale in three dimensions. This addition of the laser speeds up the process of gathering the information, so what used to take six to nine months now takes a couple of days.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1233704, Discovery, Development, and Deployment of High Temperature Coating/Substrate Systems. The award was made through the Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer Our Future (DMREF)-Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) program.

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Kate Tobin, Science Nation Producer


Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.