The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded an $8.5 million grant that will span over three years to support the establishment of a cutting-edge center focused on designing materials with extreme properties. The leads are Professor Mohammed Zikry from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Professor Donald Brenner, Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Other key individuals are Professor Rajeev Gupta and Professor Bharat Gwalani from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Professor Tim Horn from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
The grant’s scope envisions collaboration with companies such as Lockheed Martin to transition fundamental materials research to advanced technologies. The primary goal is to create new materials and identify areas where their implementation is most needed. This includes areas such as hypersonic transport, nuclear power, and extraterrestrial environments, where extremes of temperature and radiation challenge the capabilities of current materials.
The grant will also serve as seed money, kickstarting a longer-term investment strategy. In addition to supporting research and development efforts, a portion of the funds will be allocated to upgrading equipment. This includes enhancements to the advanced microscopies, as well as the acquisition of high-temperature processing equipment such as Spark Plasma Sintering. Additionally, new furnaces and a Microbalance will be acquired. The effort will also include seed grant funds to grow new research opportunities in related areas.
The grant will also provide financial support for the hiring of five graduate students and five postdoctoral researchers, further augmenting the research team’s capabilities. Overall, this significant grant represents an important investment in the development of advanced materials and their applications in extreme environments.