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Clarkson University Professor Receives National Science Foundation Grant for Nanofoams Research

Assistant Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Ioannis Mastorakos has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant for his research on nanofoams.

Ioannis MastorakosWorking with Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Cetin Cetinkaya, co-principal investigator, their project, "Collaborative Research: Strengthening Metallic Nanofoams through Ligament Scale Materials Design," will be conducted in collaboration with researchers at Purdue University.

Nanoscale metal foams exhibit several remarkable properties. The most common nanostructured foams are currently made of pure metals, and they demonstrate exceptional performance in areas such as catalysis, batteries and optics.

These metal foams, however, are often fragile and difficult to integrate into engineering applications. The ability to mechanically strengthen foams to create robust materials has so far been limited in pure metals.

The NSF award supports research aimed at creating a new class of materials -- composite nanofoams -- which display the same remarkable properties as pure metal foams, but with significantly enhanced structural integrity. The new materials designed through this work will allow researchers and engineers to exploit unique properties without suffering failure during mechanical handling or service.

The fundamental knowledge gained from this research may be used in designing and manufacturing catalysts with low-cost and high-strength fuel cells with higher capacity and faster charging times, biomedical implants with high fatigue resistance, and lighter and stronger hydrogen storage units.

The research team will combine computational methods of materials engineering at the atomistic and mesoscopic scales to experimental methods of manufacturing and characterizing composite nanostructured foams. The working hypothesis is that coating individual foam ligaments with nanostructure multilayers will result in the formation of stronger foams.

To create these materials, copper and nickel will be electroplated to form core-shell layers on templates of paper-like mats of eletrospun polymers, which will be oxidized and then subsequently reduced to form nanoscale copper metal wires. Pulsed-laser thermoelastic excitation will be used to determine the dispersion and vibrational resonance to obtain the foam's bulk elastic properties.

The results will be compared directly to finite element simulations of the composite to isolate the effects of geometry and ligament properties. Foam strength will be predicted based on molecular dynamics simulations of the ligaments, which will provide information to feed into the finite element models, and finally compared to experimental studies of the yield strength using nanoindentation with a flat punch geometry.

Read more about the award at .

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

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