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Controlling The Structure Of Crystalline Materials

ID: 2016-038 Our technology provides a scalable way to control the arrangement of grains in crystalline materials which allows for production of significantly improved materials.

ID: 2016-038
Principal Investigator: Oliver Johnson

These improvements apply to a broad spectrum of technologies such as the design and manufacture of materials that make more efficient solar panels or fuel cells, or materials that are both stronger and more ductile for safer more fuel efficient automobiles and aircrafts.

Virtually all solid materials that are not plastic or glass are made up of small crystals fused together. These crystals “grains” and their size and arrangement control many of the properties of the material, such as strength, stiffness, how well they conduct electricity, whether they make efficient solar panels, how they react with chemicals, etc.

The properties of individual grain boundaries can vary by orders of magnitude, making the effective properties of polycrystalline materials extremely sensitive to the structure of the grain boundary network. Our process provides the following primary advantages oveer current manufacturing processes:

1. Unprecedented control of crystallographic texture.
2. Defect control (especially of grain boundary types).
3. The ability to optimize material structure for engineered applications.

The Johnson Group studies complex networks in materials. We investigate the influence of microstructural anisotropy, heterogeneity and topology on the properties of hard materials. We use theory, computation, and experiments to exploit these attributes of microstructures in an effort to design and synthesize materials with enhanced and/or tailored performance and to gain new insights into the relationships between the structure of materials and their properties.

About the Market:
This invention provides a specific benefit to manufacturers of crystalline materials (such as metals, ceramics, and semiconductors) where improvements in performance are important. Industry sectors that would benfit from this invention include aerospace, automotive, energy, and medical implants. Because it applies to metals, ceramics, semiconductors, magnetic materials, etc. the potential applications are numerous. Some examples include increasing the strength and ductility of structural materials for automotive and aerospace vehicles, decreasing the operating temperature of fuel cells, improving the corrosion resistance of materials in maritime applications, tailoring the stiffness of components in robotics, etc. We hope to see it adopted in various industries to enable innovative new technologies across the spectrum of clean energy, transportation, infrastructure, space exploration, etc.

For more information, contact Spencer Rogers (801-422-3676)

Links and Resources

  1. One Page Summary PDF
  2. Radio Broadcast - Aired September 19, 2016
  3. Inventor Webpage
  4. Johnson Group Webpage