UT College of Engineering Selected to Join Key Materials Research Center
KNOXVILLE—The role of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Engineering in studying advanced materials recently got a major boost with the National Science Foundation backing UT to join the Manufacturing and Materials Joining Innovation Center, or Ma2JIC.
Established at The Ohio State University, Ma2JIC's mission was developed with input from industries, national laboratories and academia, and has been focused on closing the gap in materials development, specifically on joining materials.
The work aims to develop new ways to assess, maintain and improve welds and other areas where materials join, thereby extending their life and reducing their costs—particularly in the ever-changing energy sector.
The UT site will initiate five research projects:
Large-scale additive manufacturing of dissimilar materials.
Studying the relationships of additive manufactured components and dissimilar welds through neutron scattering.
Developing integrated computational materials engineering tools for the additive manufacturing of materials.
Looking at metal-polymer composite joining, with a dual focus on process optimization of polymer composites and on their modeling, simulation and structural mechanics.
Nanobrazing—joining two metals through the use of a different filler metal—for electronic packaging and lightweight metal bonding.
UT's departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Materials Science and Engineering; and Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering will play critical roles in the project, as will a number of experts from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
"It is exciting to be selected as a new member site of the consortium led by Ohio State," said Wayne Davis, dean of UT’s College of Engineering. "It not only positions us well to continue to be a leader in developing the next wave of materials, but it serves as an acknowledgement of the work that has already been done by our faculty and students.
"A lot has gone into getting us to this moment, and it's nice to see all of that effort get recognized in such a high-profile way."
From Ohio State's standpoint, including UT as a partner adds to an already impressive lineup of participants and strengthens the center's role in additive manufacturing research.
"Our center is very excited about the new partnership with UT," said John Lippold, Distinguished Professor at The Ohio State University. Lippold serves as overall director of Ma2JIC, formerly known as the Center for Innovative Materials Joining for Energy Applications or CIMJSEA. "This new site greatly strengthens the center capabilities in advanced manufacturing, and specifically additive manufacturing.
"The members of our center have enthusiastically supported the inclusion of UT as a mechanism for expanding our research portfolio in support of U.S. industry."
UT's participation was sought because the center needed more expertise in polymers, ceramics and hybrid materials, all of which the university researches through its partnerships with ORNL's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.
The center falls under the NSF's Industry and University Cooperative Research program, which makes the special relationship between UT and ORNL a critical component in UT's selection.
"One of the big things that is considered when selecting someone for an I/UCRC program is how well they bring students and industrial researchers together,” said Claudia Rawn, director of UT's Center for Materials Processing and associate professor of materials science, who has been chosen to lead UT's site.
"That partnership has led to Joint Institutes of Advanced Materials (JIAM), Computer Sciences (JICS) and Neutron Sciences (JINS), and that spirit of collaboration was huge for Ma2JIC."
While the research that will take place is crucial to UT staying at the forefront of innovation within those fields, the chance to work with titans of industry on some of their most critical questions is a benefit that can't be overlooked.
"The model being used on this plan is both innovative and critical for bringing industry and universities together to collaborate on research and development," said Taylor Eighmy, vice chancellor for research and engagement. "We look forward to developing new partnerships in welding and joining, critical components of advanced manufacturing generally."
Those partners include everyone from energy companies like ExxonMobil and Shell to automotive businesses like Honda.
With input from those partners, the center is conducting studies on subjects such as how certain alloys react during heat treatment, the effects of laser welding, and stress corrosion.