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High Temperature Materials Aerospace Erica L. Corral, The University of Arizona, DMR 0954110 . Outcome : Researchers at the University of Arizona are investigating boride, carbide and nitride ceramics in order to increase oxidation resistance and toughness of ceramics.

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high temperature materials aerospace erica l corral the university of arizona dmr 0954110
High Temperature Materials AerospaceErica L. Corral, The University of Arizona, DMR 0954110

Outcome: Researchers at the University of Arizona are investigating boride, carbide and nitride ceramics in order to increase oxidation resistance and toughness of ceramics.

Impact: These materials and their composites will have an impact in high temperature technologies such as, aerospace vehicles, transportation engines, and nuclear materials.

Explanation: In order to enable next generation aerospace and transportation vehicles we need materials that can operate at higher temperatures in air breathing environments while maintaining their mechanical properties. Therefore, we are working with materials that do not begin to oxidize in air until the temperatures reach >1500 °C (2700 °F) and have potential to be used in extremely aggressive high temperature environments.

Professor Corral, of the University of Arizona’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and recipient of an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, led the team, which developed new processing methods for densification of ultra high temperature ceramics and high toughness graphene reinforced ceramic composites using spark plasma sintering methods.

Professor Corral and student research team discuss spark plasma sintering results (courtesy Univ. of Arizona).

direct current heating enables new composites erica l corral the university of arizona dmr 0954110
Direct Current Heating Enables New CompositesErica L. Corral, The University of Arizona, DMR 0954110

High temperature ceramics are usually densified at temperature with or without an applied external load that is used to eliminate porosity. Densification mechanisms have been investigated using direct current heating methods as a function of time and temperature. Graduate student Luke Sky Walker found that spark plasma sintering densification mechanisms at high temperature rely on hot-forging processes and at low temperature rely on conventional sintering processes. Amazingly, this result shows that high temperature materials can be densified at much lower temperatures than ever expected. Therefore, this finding can be used to process a new class of ceramic composites with enhanced thermal and mechanical properties at lower temperatures.

Direct current heating can be used to employ conventional diffusion based sintering mechanisms or hot forging methods in order to densify ceramics using a wide rage of high temperatures and time.

smart program grows in 2011 erica l corral the university of arizona dmr 0954110
SMaRT Program Grows in 2011Erica L. Corral, The University of Arizona, DMR 0954110

The Southwest Materials Research and Training (SMaRT) Program picks up the pace in education outreach and training future scientists in high temperature materials. This summer the program trained three undergraduate students in the lab and hosted several outreach events during the school year to the Tucson community. The goal of the SMaRT Program is to target, train, educate and develop URMs and women to pursue graduate school education in materials science. The outcomes of the program have contributed to the training of 7 undergraduate and graduate students, from underrepresented groups, in the field of high temperature materials (HTM).

Graduate students, Melia Miller-Oana and Luke Sky Walker, and Professor Corral demonstrate spark plasma sintering processing to high school girls from Tucson (courtesy University of Arizona College of Engineering).