As another academic year came to a close in June, the Institute for Materials compiled a list of highlights to be included in President Bud Peterson’s annual Institute Address. Georgia Tech’s materials community, led by IMat-affiliated faculty, made a significant impact this year in addressing a wide range of materials-related challenges and opportunities.
The Institute also celebrated its leadership in GT’s first ever Ideation Research Project (IRS), as well as the official launch of IDEAS:MD3, a new cyber-ecosystem for materials innovation, and the Materials Characterization Facility.
Among the highlights of year:
A novel 3-D solar cell design is getting first testing in space aboard the International Space Station. An experimental module containing 20 test cells was launched to the ISS on July 18, and will be installed on the exterior of the station to study the cells’ performance and their ability to withstand the rigors of space.
Georgia Tech’s first ever Ideation Research Project (IRP) took place in 2016 with the Institute for Materials partnering with Simmons. Discussions were held regarding the current state of materials and technologies used by the mattress industry, including a healthy conversation around unmet consumer needs and sharing of the future direction of advanced technology development. A multi-disciplined academic team from Georgia Tech worked with a multi-functional team of Simmons leadership from marketing, product development and advanced technology on ways to enhance, optimize and revolutionize the industry. The ideation led to a Master Research Agreement in 2016 and three task orders, plus a fourth joint project with North Carolina State University (NCSU) concerning ThermoFlex Technologies. Kevin Wozniak (GTRC) served as the lead in creating the language, while Jud Ready (GTRI and IMat deputy director) used the concept (IRP model) for the first time with the company. The four areas of collective efforts are: Fabric surface modification to manage moisture evaporation and heat transfer; Sweat monitoring of lactic acid using flexible graphene sensors; eliminating mattress odors with functionalized polymers; and Flexible thin film peltier cooling design (a joint effort with NCSU).
The South Big Data Hub was officially launched in 2016. The organization was funded through the National Science Foundation’s Big Data Science & Engineering Program Awards. The lead team includes Georgia Tech’s Renata Rawlings-Goss, serving as executive director, and Srinivas Alura, principal researcher. The other two members of the team represent University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There has remained a large gap in the translation of big data research findings into economic growth and end-user impact. To exploit the full potential of big data, the NSF hubs endeavor to foster innovation through collaboration, diversity, education, and workforce development. IMat’s own Surya Kalidindi, as well as others involved in the expansion of the big data innovation ecosystem, are heavily involved in the organization and look to expand its impact in the Southeast and the expansive materials community. SBDH hosts its first on-campus workshop today (Aug. 25).
The Georgia Tech Materials Characterization Facility (MCF) was officially launched and established as a centralized institution-wide shared resource, combining the capabilities of the School of Materials Science and Engineering, GTRI, IEN and IMat. The MCF, led by Prof. Eric Vogel, brings together several characterization laboratories on campus under a single umbrella to offer shared access to a wide variety of microscopy and analysis tools, as well as skilled research staff. The MCF includes several transmission electron microscopes, numerous scanning electron microscopes and the fully integrated Panalytical XRD system, along with various X’Pert software packages for data analysis. Today, the fully integrated materials characterization facility at Georgia Tech serves more than 100 principal investigators and 400 individual users. More information can be found at mcf.gatech.edu.
MSE Professor Surya Kalidindi had a dream – to build an emergent materials informatics community at Georgia Tech as a national model. Working toward this goal, he believed a series of hackathon type of events (now referred to as data challenges) might be beneficial for building a strong materials informatics community around existing pools of material science, manufacturing science, and data science researchers. It would not only involve Georgia Tech, he thought, but other institutions and organizations as well. The idea dovetailed with another of Kalidindi’s priorities, which was building from the ground up a new cyber-ecosystem for materials innovation —IDEAS:MD3, officially launched in August 2016.
The Georgia Institute of Technology signed an agreement with edX, the nonprofit online learning destination, to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) for learners around the world. The first Georgia Tech class, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Accessibility, opened for enrollment in January 2016 and will address the importance of developing an inclusive workplace for employees and customers with disabilities. The Institute AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center is launching the course in partnership with the United Nations Global Initiative on Inclusion. Faculty from the materials community are instructing various courses, including Dave McDowell, Professor and IMat executive director; Carson Meredith, Professor, ChBE; Rick Neu, Professor, ME; and Surya Kalidindi, Professor, ME. Topics include high throughput, material design, materials in manufacturing, among others.
Two teams working with the guidance of Professor Surya Kalidindi, MGI Strategist for Georgia Tech’s Institute for Materials, were awarded Materials Genome Initiative prizes in the national Materials Science and Engineering Data Challenge sponsored by the Air Force Research Lab in partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. National Science Foundation. The top prize of $25,000 was awarded to the team comprising Joshua Gomberg, Ph.D. student in MSE, Andrew Medford, a post doc in ME, and Prof. Kalidindi. The project was titled, “Structure-based Energy Models from Simulated Al Grain Boundary Datasets.”
A team of Georgia Tech researchers comprised of Satish Kumar, Samuel Graham, and Yogendra Joshi from the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering were awarded $590,000 from the Department of Defense (DoD) to acquire state-of-the-art equipment for thermal imaging and semiconductor characterization. This Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) award, supported by Office of Naval Research, will facilitate the acquisition of a thermo-reflectance characterization system, which has the capability of high precision temperature detection and analysis with 250 nm spatial resolution, 100 ns temporal resolution, and temperature resolution of 0.1 °C.
Andre’ Fedorov, along with team members Jeffrey Fisher, Songkil Kim and Peter Kottke, have demonstrated a new process for rapidly fabricating complex three-dimensional nanostructures from a variety of materials, including metals. The new technique uses nanoelectrospray to provide a continuous supply of liquid precursor, which can include metal ions that are converted to high-purity metal by a focused electron beam. The new process generates structures that would be impossible to make using gas-phase focused electron beam-induced deposition (FEBID) techniques, and allows fabrication at rates up to five orders of magnitude faster than the gas-phase technique. And because it uses standard liquid solvents, the new process could take advantage of a broad range of precursor materials.
Custom design, manufacture, and deployment of new high performance materials for advanced technologies is critically dependent on the availability of invertible, high fidelity, structure-property-processing (SPP) linkages, according to a new book authored by Professor Surya Kalidindi (ME), head of MGI Strategies at IMat. Establishing these linkages presents a major challenge because of the need to cover unimaginably large dimensional spaces. “Hierarchical Materials Informatics” addresses objective, computationally efficient, mining of large ensembles of experimental and modeling datasets to extract this core materials knowledge.
Carbon fibers are stronger and lighter than steel, and composite materials based on carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers are being used in an expanding range of aerospace, automotive, and other applications – including major sections of the Boeing 787 aircraft. It’s widely believed, moreover, that carbon-fiber technology has the potential to produce composites at least 10 times stronger than those in use today. A research team at the Georgia Institute of Technology – headed by Satish Kumar – has developed a novel technique that sets a new milestone for the strength and modulus of carbon fibers.
Rosario Gerhardt, professor and Goizueta Foundation Faculty Chair, was profiled in “Ceramic and Glass Scientists and Engineers: 100 Inspirational Profiles” by Lynnette Madsen, published by the American Ceramic Society and Wiley Publications. The book profiles women from 29 countries, providing overviews of their successful careers and the challenges they faced. Filled with inspirational stories, the book provides novelty, inspiration, motivation and a bright perspective for the next generation of scientists and engineers seeking exciting and fulfilling careers.
The Student Polymer Network (SPN) experienced continued growth in 2015-16, representing Georgia Tech not only at events in Atlanta, but nationally as well.
The laboratory team of Dr. C.P. Wong and Ph.D. Candidate Liyi Li discovered a chemical process that may make 3D packaging development more productive with lower overall costs. The technique is based on the fundamental physicochemical behavior of semiconductor materials in a simple chemical bath. The team was able to fabricate the high quality vias needed for component communication. The new electronics processing technique, named metal-assisted chemical etching, or MaCE, not only allowed for production at the necessary level of quality, but was also able to be scaled up to process multiple components in a singular batch. The new MaCE process is approximately 2 to 3 times less expensive than the traditional plasma etching technique and can increase manufacturing output by 1-2 orders of magnitude.