"Research Initiation Award: Enhancement of Research and Education in Computational Nanomechanics and Nanoscale Testing at Tuskegee University"
Research Initiation Awards (RIAs) provide support for junior faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who are starting to build a research program, as well as for mid-career faculty who need to re-direct and re-build a research program. It is expected that the award helps to further the faculty member's research capability and effectiveness, improves research and teaching at the researcher's home institution, and involves undergraduate students in research experiences.
Tuskegee University's RIA project, within the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), develops its research capabilities in Computational Nanomechanics and Nanoscale Testing, areas of research which are essential to the development of a deeper understanding of the interaction of nano fillers with the matrix materials and their role in enhancing the mechanical properties of composite structures.
Specific activities undertaken through this project include:
1) Setting up the initial structure with various amounts of cross-linking between SWCNT and Epon molecule and with varying diameters of SWCNT,
2) Determination of interfacial binding energy and frictional stresses between carboxylic (COOH) functionalized SWCNT and Epon composites,
3) Measurement of frictional stresses as a function of the density of chemical bonds between COOH-SWCNT and Epon composites,
4) Quantification of how these stresses scale with the surface area of COOH-SWCNT,
5) Determination of interfacial strength using fiber pull-out and nanoindentation tests to compare the trends in shear strength with respect to SWCNT size and density of interfacial bonds observed in MD simulations, and
6) Involvement of undergraduate students in this research.
The project is a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the NSF funded Materials for Information Technology (MINT) Center at University of Alabama.
Development of a competent and diverse workforce in MSE is very critical for the United States to maintain global competitive edge. The RIA allows TU to introduce new research areas and academic courses to prepare undergraduate students who can compete successfully in the global market. A robust infrastructure and expertise exists at the institution in cutting-edge research in various aspects of advanced materials that are of interest to the military, automobile, sports, civil and healthcare industries. In addition to broadening participation through the inclusion and development of underrepresented minorities in STEM, the institution broadens participation in STEM geographically as an Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) jurisdiction.
Dissemination of research and education outcomes generated from the project?s implementation will be available in several venues including publications in refereed journals and presentations, including student research presentations, at national and international conferences.