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Air Force Research Laboratory looks to Ohio State for materials innovation

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and The Ohio State University’s Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (CEMAS) have established a long-term research collaboration platform for advanced materials characterization.

The Air Force Research Laboratory's Materials and Manufacturing Directorate (AFRL/RX) develops materials, processes, and advanced manufacturing technologies for aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, rockets, and ground-based systems and their structural, electronic and optical components. Precision is critical in these endeavors, and CEMAS equipment and expertise will be leveraged to achieve optimal results.

A five-year $4.25 million grant will fund a cohort of post-doctoral research fellows (PDRFs) focused on precision measurement tools for advanced functional and structural materials characterization. Material classes of interest include metals, semiconductors, ceramics, polymers, composites, functionally graded materials, nanomaterials, electronics, sensors and biological materials.

The PDRFs will be embedded in the research groups at AFRL/RX offices at Wright-Patterson AFB and will have a faculty advisor at CEMAS to ensure access to the latest developments and capabilities. 

“These outstanding young researchers will be the conduit between our two research enterprises,” said CEMAS Director David McComb. “There they will learn the materials and advanced manufacturing challenges that impede AFRL’s progress. Here they will have access to state-of-the-art microscopy equipment and the nation’s leading experts in materials characterization to help solve those challenges and innovate to improve our national defense.”

Project Co-PI Frank Scheltens remotely operates CEMAS equipment with the remote operation station located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Faculty advisors will play a key role in mentoring the PDRF to develop new and novel approaches by fully utilizing the instruments available at AFRL as well as the world-leading facilities at CEMAS. All PDRFs recruited under this program will be U.S. citizens.

Already equipped with nearly $40 million in electron and ion beam microscopy equipment, CEMAS also will use a portion of the grant to upgrade existing instrumentation, adding new capabilities that are customized to support the AFRL/RX research topics investigated. This research collaboration also will utilize the CEMAS-AFRL remote materials characterization "collaboratory," which enables both organizations to link and share state-of-the-art technology and instrumentation.

McComb added, “We believe the state-of-the-art facilities at CEMAS combined with our existing AFRL/RX relationships set us up to uniquely succeed in this bold endeavor.”

He also commended congressional leadership and support of precision measurement tools for advanced materials research, particularly from Congressman Mike Turner.

Tags: Research