In the future, if you get a medical implant or a new radiator in your car, you may have Millersville’s Dr. Mark Atwater, applied engineering, safety & technology, to thank for making the parts within those things stronger and lighter. Atwater has been researching the use of nanotechnology on metal foams.
An article on Atwater’s research is currently online and will soon be published in “Advanced Engineering Materials.” Atwater and his fellow researchers, Kris A. Darling and Mark A. Tschopp, wrote the article. “Metallic foams and porous metal structures are valuable because they are strong, can absorb impact energy and allow for efficient heat transfer,” said Atwater. “There are many techniques for generating metal foams, but they are mainly created through liquid state processing.”
Atwater’s research shows how the “AERO” process, which is a solid state process, can create metal foams by mechanically mixing in oxide particles. AERO stands for Additive, Expansion, by the Reduction of Oxides. The process can create foamed particles or bulk parts.
You can watch a clip of the serial sectioning of a single, foamed copper particle at:
“Our research investigates how one can make foams from difficult metals,” said Atwater, who discussed the concepts of his research in the classroom. “Most metal foams are aluminum because it is easy to melt, but our research shows how copper can foam at low temperature as well. We hope to extend this process to other important metals such as titanium in the near future.”
Atwater and his collaborators are currently working to obtain a patent on their new process.
And, if you’re looking for a job, Atwater says the government is putting a lot of money behind nanotechnology, which is being increasingly incorporated into products.