Passed the Dandelion Test

Whether microlattices or carbon aerogels, ultralight materials are often perched atop dandelions or other plants to demonstrate just how light they are. Since the dandelions are growing like weeds right now (pun intended), it made sense to put some carbon nanofiber material on top of one. The material pictured has a density of 19.8 mg/cc (or about 99.1% air). The nice thing is that we can make higher density versions for applications other than holding down dandelion seeds. Check it out here.

carbon aerogel - like material on dandelion

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Turning Up the Heat

Many of the alloys we create are very hard to compact, even at 3 GPa, so a little temperature can go a long way. We have just completed a self-contained hot chamber for pressing under vacuum, argon or any other gas. The heater is controlled using a PID unit similar to most furnaces, and the 40 ton hydraulic press is programmable as well. Topped off (literally) with a small vacuum pump and mini gas tank for argon, we will be putting this thing through its paces on projects such as metallic foams and nanostructured alloys.hot press 2

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Built to Last

You might think a material that is 95% air would be weak. You might think the rest being entirely carbon would make it brittle. You might be wrong.

In ongoing testing on nonwoven carbon nanofibers created through the CoFFiN process (see this page), we’ve found the material to be surprisingly robust and a lot more fun than science gets credit for. The videos below show that a little liquid nitrogen goes a long way, and a lot of compression is no big deal.

Shot and edited by Joseph Wright.

Shot and edited by David Edwards.

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Up and Running

The new ITEC 281 project, a steam or air-powered “wobbler” engine, cleared its first semester, and though challenging, was rewarding as well. The end of the semester turned into a competition of sorts to see whose engine could operate at the lowest (or highest!) pressure. Though small, these little engines can reach some impressive speeds.

To see the demo I built in action, click here.

Elmer #25 Wobbler Engine

 

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Conference Season

It has been busy fall semester. Five of us made the trip to Baltimore for the Nano 2016 conference (Herald’s International Conference and Exhibition on  Nanomedicine and Nanotechnology). Congratulations to David for a job well done on his presentation, and it was a good experience for all of us. Roger presented at the 2016 Materials Science and Technology (MS&T) conference in Salt Lake City, UT as well as the PASSHE Undergraduate Research Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics here at MU. Also a great job and dedicated effort. We also had a good showing in the 16th Annual Fall Student Research Poster Display. You guys make the group look very good.

Looking forward to the future!

david conference

David at Nano 2016

Picture1

Roger at PASSHE STEM Conference

 

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A “CAREER” Opportunity

The research proposal entitled, “New Solid State Metal Foams Using Oxide Reduction and Intraparticle Expansion,” has just been awarded. This will provide funding over the next five years to study the mechanisms behind the Additive Expansion by the Reduction of Oxides (AERO) solid state foaming process (discussed here). This grant is through the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER). As described by NSF, it is a, “…Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

What a great opportunity to advance research and academics at Millersville! I look forward to getting started, and I am grateful for the support I had putting this proposal together, especially to the Director of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration, Dr. Rene Munoz, for his continual guidance along the way.

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Research Group’s First Article

The research article entitled, “Using Mechanical Alloying to Create Bimetallic Catalysts for Vapor-Phase Carbon Nanofiber Synthesis,” has been accepted for publication in the journal Fibers. This was entirely conducted at MU (with external characterization support) by undergrads, Laura, Crystal and Roger conducting the work and authoring the manuscript. Congrats! Let’s keep up the momentum.

The link for this open-access article will be under “publications” as soon as it is available.

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