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National Security Education Center


  • Institute Director
    Dan Thoma
    (505) 663-5627
  • Institute Deputy Director
    Bob Field
    (505) 663-5807
  • Institute Office Manager
    Lynn Chavez
    (505) 663-5233

New Materials Synthesis and Crystal Growth

New Materials Synthesis and Crystal Growth is an innovation-enabling area for many disciplines of research. High-quality materials samples are required to perform scientific studies of materials properties and responses. Chemical, physical, optical, magnetic, etc. properties require high-pedigree samples to accurately predict and design the materials. One quality material can be the subject of many research papers by a diverse set of researchers. Indeed, increased quality of samples provides better resolution of results and refinements of theories. The purpose of this task is to support materials design initiatives. It is envisioned that a new center at LANL can be developed to support science programs, and in fact, can greatly reduce design cycles with high-pedigree samples. As materials are designed for given applications using state-of-the-art modeling and simulation techniques, property validation requires the ability to generate samples.

Stress Assisted Abnormal Grain Growth

Institute students are currently engaged in two thrust areas in this field. The first is an integrated theoretical and experimental approach to produce single crystals via strain assisted abnormal grain growth. Testing on single crystals is a vital tool for determining intrinsic properties of crystalline solids such as elastic, electronic and magnetic properties, and deformation mechanisms. Traditional methods of growing single crystals from the melt are precluded in metals and alloys that undergo allotropic phase transformations. Strain annealing approaches have been successful in the past in producing large grains that can be harvested for testing, but process parameters were derived in an Edisonian manner and results are difficult to reproduce. The approach being used in this investigation combines theoretical and experimental efforts to define parameters for growing crystals during the simultaneous application of stress and temperature. Preliminary experiments on Fe and U specimens have yielded grains in the centimeter size range.

Amorphous Alloy Synthesis

The students are also conducting research on the effects of composition and processing parameters on the formation of amorphous metal alloys and the stability of the glassy phase. This work will be extending to develop spark plasma sintering and thermal spray techniques to apply amorphous alloy coatings. These coatings can be used to provide extremely hard, corrosion resistant surface finishes derived from the unique properties of the amorphous state.

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