Materials Science and Engineering
This department specializes in developing new characterization techniques for metals, ceramics and composite materials. Development of new methods to characterize and predict the behavior of materials is absolutely necessary for successful energy and water research, as well as other technology development missions in national and homeland security.
Materials Properties and Performance
Understanding the relationships between processing and materials properties is a key to developing new materials with more suitable qualities or employing the appropriate materials in special uses. INL experts develop new materials and processes with improved performance for current uses as part of design programs for the future such as high temperature or gas-cooled reactors.
Researchers use a 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 enhance properties and meet performance specifications.
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.
Materials science research at INL has a strong science focus, with an emphasis on peer-reviewed publication of research. Novel instrumants, processes and products are the natural progression of such work, enabling strong, applications-oriented research for government and industry partners.
The next generation of energy production systems will require materials with superior performance in more extreme environmental conditions. The Materials Properties and Performance department investigates materials and their applications - to advance the understanding of material performance under a wide range of conditions - and apply those data to the development of new structures and materials. Specific studies include microstructure/property relationships, fundamental and applied corrosion studies, high temperature phase stability, environmental effects, coating performance determination of thermophysical properties of nuclear materials, and irradiation effects.