Aifantis Predicts Materials Failure from the Tiniest of Grains

Postdoctoral researcher Haokun Deng, PhD/MSE 2016, Katerina Aifantis, and mechanical engineering undergraduates Fabian Medina and Andrew Barr prepare materials for electron microscopy in the lab.
Associate professor Katerina Aifantis has received a three-year, $840,000 Department of Energy award to study mechanical processes at the nanoscale

Her team is using the grant to study plasticity, one of the most vexing problems in mechanical engineering, in which elements or mechanical stresses introduced to solid materials cause deformations that affect the materials’ strength and electrical and thermal conductivity – softening or strengthening steel, for example. 

They are developing theoretical frameworks and performing computer simulations and experiments to model, understand and predict the mechanical and chemical changes at the boundaries, or interfaces, of atomic-level grains of matter. 

It is basic science, but with potentially lifesaving implications.

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