Projects

Join a dynamic research team to participate in simulations and experiments. Develop laboratory and modeling skills. Design, test and optimize multifunctional materials.

Projects include:

Microstructural Design and Thermo-Mechanical Fatigue of High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys

3-D printed shape memory alloy removable partial denture clasps

Active materials and structures

Virtual Design of Novel Ferromagnetic Shape Memory Alloys

Ionic Liquids

Structural Electrodes for Multifunctional Energy Storage

Scalable Production of Polymeric Nanofibers Through Modified Electrospinning Methods

Electro-Mechanical Coupling in Oxide Ceramics

Hystesis Engineering in Multifunctional Materials Systems

Flexible and Integrated Energy Harvesting & Storage for Wearable Electronics

Microstructural Design and Thermo-Mechanical Fatigue of High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys

Dr. Ibrahim Karaman, Chevron Professor and Head, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Karaman NASA ULI

Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs) have recently inspired significant interest for their potential use in high power output solid state actuators in aeronautics, energy conversion and storage, consumer products, and automotive applications. SMA actuators can provide ultra-high energy density actuation with an extremely small volume, unmatched by any other actuator materials or mechanisms, and are therefore attractive as an alternative to electromagnetic actuators when a small volume, and/or large force and stroke are required. Unfortunately, the current uses of SMAs are limited by their operating temperatures below 100°C. There is an increasing demand for high temperature SMAs with operating temperatures notably above 100°C in commercial airplane engines and morphing surfaces in supersonic and hypersonic flights to reduce sonic boom and noise. The available high temperature SMAs suffer from functional fatigue, early failure and creep, that require proper compositional and microstructural control and modifications to significantly enhance the functional behavior.

In the present study, in partnership with NASA Glenn Research Center and The Boeing Company, we microstructurally design and thermo-mechanically characterize functional fatigue and fracture behavior of next generation high temperature SMAs. The REU student(s) will participate in the various stages of this research, including fabrication of new high temperature SMAs, determination of thermal and mechanical properties using various characterization instruments, design and implementation of a low and high temperature fatigue-testing frame, and identification of microstructures using optical and electron microscopy with the help of a graduate student, using the state-of-the-art experimental systems available at Texas A&M.

3-D printed shape memory alloy removable partial denture clasps

Ji Ma, TEES Assistant Research Scientist, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Ibrahim Karaman, Chevron Professor and Head, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Karaman 2 Removable Partial Dentures (or RPDs) are a type of dental prosthesis that is used when there are healthy teeth still present in the jaw, which serve as points of attachment for the RPD.  Two major current issues with the device are its propensity for loosening at the attachment clasps, and the burdensome process to produce the device as it is custom-designed for each patient.  The former problem is caused by large “stretching” required to secure the dental clasp tightly onto the tooth, which often exceeds the maximum elastic deformation of conventional dental alloys.  A potential solution comes from NiTi-based shape memory alloys (nitinol), which possess maximum elastic strain over 20 times that of conventional alloys due to its superelastic behavior.  The latter problem can be solved using metallic 3-D printing techniques, such as selective laser melting which is capable of producing complex and fully customized framework of RPDs from a scan of the patient’s jaw structure.  The current project combines the materials properties of nitinol with metallic 3-D printing techniques to create patient-specific RPDs with high resistance against loosening in a single-step procedure, and compares the mechanical properties of these clasps experimentally with clasps made from conventional materials or fabrication techniques.   

 

Active materials and structures

Dr. Dimitris Lagoudas, Senior Associate Dean for Research, John and Bea Slattery Chair Professor, Associate Vice Chancellor for Engineering Research and Deputy Director, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station

Dr. Theocharis Baxevanis, TEES Assistant Research Professor

Lagoudas 2The Shape Memory Alloy Research Team (SMART) is a collaborative group of professors, post-docs and graduate and undergraduate students that work on the experimental testing, computational modeling, and engineering applications of shape memory alloys (SMAs). SMAs are a special class of smart intermetallic alloys that exhibit shape change and have the capability to “remember” their original shape, under the influence of mechanical force or temperature change. SMAs, being solid-state, compact and light-weight have been at the fore-front of various engineering applications in diverse areas such as aerospace components, biomedical devices, oil and gas extraction, automotive, robotics, and civil structures. One of the most significant areas of application of SMA-based actuators is in morphing air structures, where the objective is to develop a high performance aircraft with the capability to morph shape and/or performance of the wings in-flight. Biomedical application of SMAs, on the other hand, include orthodontic implants, cardiovascular stents, bone implants and surgical instruments. The SMART research group’s work on SMAs encompasses diverse areas that include design and optimization of self-folding origami structures for spacecraft applications, understanding of fatigue and failure of SMA components when used as actuators in aerospace applications, developing efficient methods of heating SMA components using induction heating, analysis of large deformation of SMA structures subjected to fluid loads, corrosion of SMAs at high temperatures, and development of flexible and wearable electronics with the help of SMAs. SMART research group has collaborations with multinational industry partners such as Boeing and Intel (present), Saudi Aramco and Tenaris (past) and government organizations such as NASA, NSF, AFOSR and Qatar National Foundation and has a diverse group of researchers and students from all over the world.

Virtual Design of Novel Ferromagnetic Shape Memory Alloys

Dr. Raymundo Arroyave, Associate Professor

arroyaveFerromagnetic Shape Memory Alloys (FSMAs) exhibit significant magnetic field-induced shape changes at relatively high frequencies, offering a wide range of applications for actuation, sensing, energy harvesting and magnetic refrigeration. To date, most of the FSMAs that have been discovered and deployed are Heusler alloys (Fig.  1) which have mainly been developed in an ad hoc manner. We hypothesize that coupling theory, methods and simulation software with advanced informatics tools will enable the rapid screening of candidate materials. Dr. Arroyave and his group have already developed several techniques based on Density Functional Theory that enable the calculation of multi-functional properties in complex alloys and compounds. As part of this REU site, Dr. Arroyave and his students will lead undergraduate researchers in the development of high-throughput computational materials science protocols to discover promising multifunctional behavior in a sub-set of the possible Heusler alloys space. Students will be trained in some of the basic physical aspects of metals and alloys as well as structural phase transformations. Specifically, they will be introduced to the concepts of martensitic transformations and multi-functional properties (weeks 1,2). They will be trained in the use of crystal structure visualization and manipulation techniques (week 2). After they become familiar with some elementary aspects of the crystal and atomic structure of Heusler FSMAs, they will receive a lay-level introduction to quantum mechanics and electronic structure methods (weeks 3, 4) and some of the most widely used electronic structure methods and codes. Students will then be guided through their first electronic structure calculations and will become familiar with aspects that are general to any computer simulation approach: input files, model parameters, and output files (week 5). At the same time, they will be trained in the use of scripting programming languages (such as Python) to automate many of the pre- and post-processing of files necessary to run calculations. Students will then be introduced to automated calculation tools developed by Dr. Arroyave. At this stage students will learn how to build automated scripts and will proceed to design their first high-throughput calculation project (weeks 6, 7). Using Machine Learning Tools, students (weeks 8-10) will build a ‘recommendation’ engine for promising alloy compositions. This recommendation engine will be similar in spirit to the recommendation engines used by content streaming services to make suggestions to users based on preferences and prior selections.

 

Ionic Liquids

Dr. Tahir Cagin, Professor

CaginIn the Laboratory of Computational Engineering of Nanomaterials, we are interested in studying wide range of materials using state of the art multiscale modeling and simulation methods to understand the properties, behavior and engineering performance as a function chemical constitutions, composition and nano- or micro-structure which results from particular processing condition and path. Low vapor pressure fire resistance, excellent chemical and thermal stability, wide liquid temperature ranges, and wide electrochemical windows are examples of the useful properties of typical Ionic Liquids (IL). Because of these excellent properties, ILs have been used or considered for use in organic synthesis, catalysis, chemical separation, hazardous chemical storage and transportation, lubrication, batteries and polymer gel electrolytes, fuel and solar cells, and their applications continue to expand. It is important to underline that each application has different sets of desirable physicochemical properties. For example, high specificity and selectivity, ability to accelerate the target reaction to reach equilibrium as fast as possible while eliminating or minimizing side reactions, is desirable properties of ILs for their catalytic applications whereas viscosity is the property of interest for lubrication applications.  Having a better understanding of structure-property relationships for ILs and IL mixtures beforehand will be invaluable for the optimization of these applications. We will conduct Molecular Dynamics Simulations on the properties of Ionic liquids to determine thermo- physicochemical and transport properties of various ionic liquids for advance technology applications.

Structural Electrodes for Multifunctional Energy Storage

Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus, Associate Professor and William and Ruth Neely Faculty Fellow

LutkenhausAs both ground and aerial vehicles increase in complexity, multifunctional materials become critical to reduce the size and mass of system components. One such example is the integration of energy storage and power systems with structural or armor elements. For such a concept to be viable, the proposed system must store and deliver electrochemical energy as well as bear a structural load and dissipate mechanical stress. Whereas conventional Li-ion batteries are energy dense, they are not necessarily mechanically robust. The goal of this research is to create new multifunctional materials, focusing on “structural electrodes,” that address energy, power, and mechanical strength requirements in one unit. The student’s activities will center on materials synthesis, electrode processing, and mechanical and electrochemical characterization. The student's research will address the following questions. How does processing  affect physical properties and electrode morphology? What is the relationship between composition, morphology, and physical properties?

Scalable Production of Polymeric Nanofibers Through Modified Electrospinning Methods

Dr. Mohammad Naraghi, Assistant Professor

Naraghi

The goal of this project is to develop a novel technique to manufacture nonwoven and continuous polymeric nanofibers in a scalable fashion from polymer melt, assisted with electromechanical melt drawing and distributed heat sources. Our proposed technique is driven by the hypothesis that exposure of nanomaterials embedded in a solid polymer fiber to electromagnetic radiation can be used as a means to reversibly induce local melting and maintain sufficiently low viscosity, required for polymer stretching to submicron thin jets via a combination of electric field and mechanical stretching. During this project, the student will develop the setup required for composite fiber processing and electromagnetic radiation, and perform measurements required to characterize the effect of material processing parameters on fiber diameter. The polymeric fibers can be used as precursors for multifunctional materials, including piezoelectric and piezoresistive nanofibers for structural load bearing and deformation sensing.

Electro-Mechanical Coupling in Oxide Ceramics

Dr. Miladin Radovic, Associate Professor and Associate Department Head

radovicBinary and ternary oxides doped with aliovalent ions are key materials for innovative energy conversion devices, such as solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) and batteries, coatings in high efficiency turbines and sensors. In addition to good electrical conductivity at high temperatures, in most cases these ceramics exhibit unusual coupling of dielectric and mechanical properties due to elasto-dielectric relaxation of point defect complexes. This coupling is not only crucial for structural stability and reliability of different devices, but it also enables new applications f oxide ceramics for high temperature sensors. The REU students willbe involved in this research on processing of different multifunctional oxide ceramics in which reorientation of elasto-dielectric dipoles determines their response to the electrical filed and external loads. The student will also carry out advanced characterization using mechanical testing under electric field, Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA), and Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopy (RUS). The mentoring team for the student working on multifunctional oxides, consisting of Dr. Radovic and his graduate students, will train REU student to analyze results from various tests and link them to the structure of processing conditions of multifunctional materials.

 

Hysteresis Engineering in Multifunctional Materials Systems

Dr. Patrick Shamberger, Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Degree Program Director

Shamberger1       Shamberger2

One of the principle motivations driving the development of multifunctional materials is the promise of efficient energy conversion through energetic couplings as in the magneto-caloric, baro-caloric, or elasto-caloric effects.  However, the so-called “giant” magneto- (baro-, elasto-, etc.) caloric effects which dominate the literature, are based on first-order phase transitions and are marked by hysteresis effects which significantly detract from the potential efficiency of these materials.  REU students will focus on investigating hysteresis in: (1) magneto-structural phase transformations in Heusler alloys, and (2) electric field and thermally-driven conductive filament formation in thin film metal/oxide/metal resistance switches.  In both cases, undergraduate researchers will experimentally investigate the role of structural descriptors in controlling hysteresis and transformation behavior.  REU student(s) will design and execute an experiment to test a specific hypothesis related to the influence of material structure on hysteresis in one particular material system.  Students will be trained on a primary experimental technique relevant to testing their specific hypothesis (likely atomic force microscopy, x-ray diffraction, electrical or thermal characterization techniques).  At all stages of the work, REU students will interact closely with graduate students with experience in the specific area.

 

Flexible and Integrated Energy Harvesting & Storage for Wearable Electronics

Dr. Choongho Yu, Associate Professor and Gulf/Oil Thomas A. Dietz Career Development Professor II

Yu

Energy conversion and storage are the two most important technologies for the rapid development of portable and wearable electronic devices. Typically, energy harvesting and storage devices are two different physical units, which should be connected together by a power management circuit to enable a sustainable power supply. For wearable applications, it is highly desirable to improve the integration level so that we can simplify the structure and minimize the energy loss between each unit. The goal of this research is to develop new self-charging flexible energy devices by integrating piezoelectric energy harvester into electrochemical supercapacitor, which can simultaneously convert mechanical energy into electricity and store electrical energy into chemical energy.  Such an integrated device can be charged by vibration energy in our daily life to provide enough power for wearable electronics. Students are expected to synthesize organic piezoelectric materials as well as carbon-based supercapacitor electrodes, and also characterize electrochemical performances of the integrated device.