The Materials Solutions Network at CHESS (MSN-C) has received a renewal of funding from the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) for its second year of operation.
MSN-C provides dedicated access to two X-ray beamlines at CHESS for Air Force and other Department of Defense materials researchers, and original equipment manufacturers. High-intensity, high-energy X-ray beams available at the newly upgraded CHESS facility enable breakthroughs in materials and designs for military components.
Through this research, MSN-C aims to improve the performance and safety of new and existing materials, while lowering cost.
“We are grateful for the continued support from the Materials Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory and we are extremely excited to begin the second year of operation at MSN-C.” said Matt Miller, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, associate director of CHESS and principal investigator for MSN-C. “We had a very productive first year at the MSN-C beamlines within CHESS; Department of Defense users from all three service branches successfully completed experiments at either SMB (the structural materials beamline) or FMB (the functional materials beamline).”
With the structural materials beamline, researchers use high energy X-rays to understand the evolving internal structure of metals, polymers, ceramics and composites during service and processing conditions. The beamline allows researchers to observe materials in real time and at length scales from atomic bonds to that of structural components such as turbine blades or weld joints.
Traditional design testing considers material behavior at the macro or component scale, rather than at the atomic scale. Using emerging X-ray techniques developed at CHESS and around the world, it is now possible to measure and simulate how each individual atomic crystal in a sample evolves over time – for example, during stress experienced by a titanium compressor blade in a jet engine. Eventually, a fatigue crack will begin at the atomic scale.
In addition to helping predict when this crack will occur, researchers can use X-rays to watch and understand the crack’s evolution and growth.
The functional materials beamline is designed for analysis of soft materials, such as organic molecule and polymer-based materials and composites used in light-weight structural components and organic electronics, among other applications.
This beamline permits studies of materials used in 3D printing and other additive manufacturing techniques. Such studies help Air Force researchers and others understand the complex links between process conditions, structure and function.
The X-ray data from MSN-C plays a fundamental role in designing military aircraft components from the single crystal scale upward, and producing components using 3D printing.
Read the AFRL's press release about MSN-C here.