San Diego, Calif., Oct 20, 2016 – The UC San Diego CaliBaja Center for Resilient Materials & Systems held a research summit on 20 October 2016 for industries interested in partnering with the Center’s faculty and researchers.
“The CaliBaja Center Summit was an excellent opportunity for students, faculty, and industry representatives to engage in discussions at the cutting-edge of new materials development,” said Olivia Graeve, the Center’s director and a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.
Discussions focused on materials for aerospace applications, radiation environments, and ballistics. The Center strives to connect with industry to solve immediate technology needs, but with a long-term vision.
“We hope to develop new materials for use now and for use in the next 30 to 50 years,” said Graeve.
The CaliBaja Center for Resilient Materials & Systems is developing advanced materials for extreme environments such as high temperatures, extreme strain rates and deformations, and radiation. Solutions out of the Center have a variety of applications in aerospace, biomedical devices, and energy.
There are 36 faculty researchers participating in the Center, and many of their students showcased their research at the Summit. Posters lining the lobby displayed research results on materials like graphene, silicon carbide, gold, cobalt and wood. One poster displayed the results of research on 3D-printable and disposable endoscopes. There were even posters on bioinspired designs.
Mike Frank, a Ph.D. student in professor Joanna McKittrick’s lab, is one of the students working on bioinspired design. His research focuses on building impact resistant scaffolds inspired by the structure of porcupine quills and sea cucumbers.
“My experience with the CaliBaja Center Summit at the Jacobs School was especially impactful for me as someone who grew up in San Diego and wants to see this region continue to thrive and compete with places like LA and San Francisco,” said Frank. “As a Mexican-American, I'm especially proud to be involved with Prof. Graeve as part of Prof. McKittrick's group in this kind of collaborative initiative that connects talented researchers and engineers from academia and industry on both sides of the border.”
Other bioinspired posters focused on the horn of a bighorn sheep and the hoof of a zebra, and looking at how a woodpecker’s skull is structured to avoid brain injury.
In addition to bioinspired designs, the Center’s faculty and students are doing research on nanomaterials.
“Ceramic nanomaterials have excellent mechanical properties for hydrogen fuel cells, structural health and potentially in nuclear energy,” said Keyur Karandikar, a fifth year Ph.D. student in Prof. Graeve’s lab. “At UC San Diego, we have the unique capability to obtain different nanoceramic materials and characterize them efficiently using light scattering techniques for particle size analysis, combustion synthesis techniques and more.”
Karandikar was presenting a poster on ceramic powders, which can be used in nuclear reactor applications. Karandikar is also an instructor for ENG 10, a new class at the Jacobs School that aims to introduce freshmen and transfers to basic concepts in engineering and math and teach them to apply the concepts by building simple but practical engineering projects.
Karandikar says the Summit is valuable for letting industry know that he has the technical knowledge and background in particle analysis.
“Perhaps a company will see that the techniques used in our research lend themselves to a problem they are having,” said Karandikar, who hopes to work with a local company, such as Cymer, when he graduates.
A number of companies, including Cymer, were present at the summit to gain exposure to the research being done at the Center.
“Olivia did an amazing job organizing this summit,” said Silvia De Dea, Principle Architect at Cymer. “There are many excellent opportunities for academia and industry to work together, and the breadth of research we saw today was amazing. I was impressed by the students during the poster session, and their willingness to work with industry. The Center is training them to be the engineers of the future.”
Leo Holland, Director, Computer Systems and Science, was present on behalf of General Atomics (GA).
“Broad materials research is very useful for GA,” said Holland. “We have a great working relationship with UC San Diego in fusion and fission, but Olivia and her team have so much more going on. It was great to get a feel for it all, and the Center is still in its embryonic stage. Who knows what will percolate out of it – the potential is endless.”
Oscar Vazquez Mena spoke about designing new architectures for making more efficient microchips. Typically, microchips are composed of one layer or one level of components on a wafer surface. His idea is to use the space on a chip more efficiently by building up and making vertical structures, or incorporating multiple levels of components on the same surface.
Prabhakar Bandaru spoke on designing metamaterials that can control where heat goes. The point of his research is to harness energy from heat, which is typically energy that's wasted. He's made heat concentrators, which are materials that can concentrate heat into one spot, which can be used in power plants. Bandaru has also made heat cloaks, which are materials that direct heat energy away from a spot. Applications include heat sensitive equipment and microelectronics circuitry in which you can protect certain regions of a chip from heat.
“The Hulk material:” that's the nickname Professor Veronica Eliasson gave to a material she created in collaboration with Graeve. She spoke about her work on the material, a type of steel with a record-breaking ability to withstand an impact without deforming permanently. The new alloy could be used in a wide range of applications, from drill bits, to body armor for soldiers, to meteor-resistant casings for satellites.
Meanwhile, Mark Meyers spoke on Biological Materials Science: Challenges and Opportunities.