Manufacturing of Novel Continuous Nanocrystalline Ceramic Nanofibers with Superior Mechanical Properties

This project is in the area of nanomanufacturing of advanced nanostructured materials. Nanostructured materials (NSMs) with unusual and extreme properties will play a key role in many emerging technologies. However, manufacturing of NSMs with the desired properties is highly complex and currently is over-reliant on empirical data. In this project, a novel manufacturing process producing a new class of ceramic materials, i.e. continuous ceramic nanofibers, is addressed. The novel sol-gel electrospinning technique (patents pending), invented recently by two of the PI’s (Dzenis and Larsen), produces ceramic fibers of submicron diameters with potentially extreme thermomechanical properties. This technique is being analyzed and further optimized for the production of nanocrystalline ceramic nanofibers with superior mechanical properties, based on a comprehensive, multidisciplinary research effort. The research team develops an efficient and robust computational methodology for simulating realistic nanocrystalline nanofibers and their mechanical response at finite temperatures. A novel atomistic-continuum modeling approach based on a hybrid Monte-Carlo finite element technique is being developed and used. These models will be applied to design strong nanofibers by predicting the effects of the chemical composition and atomic structures of grain boundaries and defects on mechanical properties. The results will be used to develop chemistry and to direct manufacturing of strong nanocrystalline nanofibers. The achievement of the enhanced mechanical properties of the resulting nanofibers will be demonstrated experimentally utilizing novel mechanical characterization techniques based on scanning probe microscopy.

The original research paper can be seen here.

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