Materials Properties and Performance
Materials Science research at the Idaho National Laboratory is improving understanding of the relationships between processing and materials properties, and developing new characterization techniques for metals, ceramics and composite materials. Areas of research include nanocomposite and particulate materials development, fracture mechanics, advanced ceramics, engineering, biocorrosion of metals utilizing new scanning probe microscopy techniques, and computational materials science and materials processing.
The staff focuses on developing new materials and processes with improved performance, and developing new methods to characterize and predict the behavior of materials. Researchers utilize a broad range of processing techniques including plasma, powder metallurgy, spray forming, and rapid solidification to make or modify advanced materials. A significant percentage of R&D focuses on microstructural control to cost-effectively provide enhanced properties and meet performance specifications.
INL materials scientists have extensive capabilities in modeling, process diagnostics, and materials characterization. Characterization techniques include atomic force and scanning electrochemical microscopy, high resolution (20 nanometers) moire' interferometry, and microtopography in addition to routine mechanical property and microstructural characterization methods. Other staff are investigating fracture mechanics to enable lifetime predictions for structures made of ductile materials such as steel. Lifetime prediction permits cost savings to industry through improved design efficiency and the ability to evaluate how flaws effect structural integrity.
Materials science research at INL has a strong science focus, with emphasis on peer-reviewed publication of research. Novel instruments, processes and products are the natural progression of such work, enabling strong, applications-oriented research for government and industry partners.