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Material Synthesis, Processing
& Manufacturing

image of high current density cathode image of high current density cathode image of high current density cathode

 

Materials synthesis and how synthesis conditions affect a materialís microstructure and ultimately its functional properties lie at the heart of the discipline of Materials Science & Engineering. A number of faculty at UC Davis (Lavernia, Schoenung, Mukherjee, van Benthem, Castro, Groza, Munir) have been and continue at the forefront of the use of sintering for the synthesis of new materials. UC Davis houses exclusive capabilities in pulsed electric current synthesis of nano-crystalline oxide ceramics. The first Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS) system in North America (Syntex SPS-825S) (Lavernia) as well as an older system (Syntex 1050) (Munir) are housed in the CHMS Department. Specific focus of the corresponding research activities is to determine the fundamental atomic-scale mechanisms of electrical fields, currents and heating rates to the consolidation of nanomaterials. In a collaborative effort, faculty combine in situ TEM techniques (van Benthem) with macroscopic field-assisted sintering procedures (Groza, Munir, Mukherjee) and calorimetry (Castro) to correlate microstructure evolution, processing parameters and thermodynamic driving forces. Lavernia, Schoenung, Mukherjee and van Benthem have recently started a collaboration to evaluate mechanical properties of nanogranular microstructures after SPS through in situ nanoindentation in TEM and SEM.

Another unique synthesis tool consists of a state-of-the-art pulsed laser deposition system (Takamura) which is ideally suited for the growth of thin films and heterostructures of ceramic oxide materials. A high energy electron diffraction system permits the in situ characterization of the growth process to determine the growth modes and to control the thickness of the layers with unit cell precision, permitting the synthesis of artificial layered materials not available in bulk form. The Mahajan group utilized metal organic chemical vapor deposition to grow epitaxial quantum wells in group III-nitride semiconductors.

The Schoenung group utilizes laser engineered net shaping (LENS) technology for the direct fabrication of alloy parts, taking advanced of its high cooling/solidification rates, rapid prototyping process, and good shape control. The Lavernia group houses mechanical alloying and cryomilling facilities as well as a number of different types of spray atomization/deposition facilities to create nanostructured metallic systems and thermal barrier coatings.