I was born in upstate New York and raised in Dayton, Ohio. In 1997 I enrolled at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, CA. I graduated from Caltech in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and Applied Sciences, having spent my time there studying electrical engineering and materials science. During my stay at Caltech, I also participated in research projects at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories and at the Neutron Science Center of Los Alamos National Lab.
My research centers on the processing and properties of a brand new class of materials called amorphous metal foams. These are foam materials (i.e., materials with large fractions of empty space inside them, like sponge, bone, or cork) made from a special class of metal known as a bulk metallic glass (BMG). Bulk metallic glasses are sophisticated metal alloys that, when cooled very quickly from the liquid state, retain an amorphous atomic structure. They are characterized by a number of unique properties, including exceptional strength and elasticity, high hardness/wear resistance, and good corrosion resistance. Members of the successful Zr-based BMG family, which are the focus of my research, typically have strengths around 2 GPa in compression, and stiffness ca. 80-100 GPa.
In bulk form, however, BMG alloys are also brittle, making them dangerous in structural applications where their high strength could be useful. Normally, the approach taken to improve the toughness of BMG is incorporation of second phases (i.e., composites processing), either deliberately added or precipitated out of the alloy. Recently, however, many researchers have noted the high inherent ductility of thin BMG pieces (like wires or foils) during bending. The goal of my research has been to exploit this ductility by the creation of low-density BMG foams, whose features are by their very nature thin and subject to bending deformation. In addition to allowing for high ductility in the amorphous metal, foaming techniques will also impart the natural advantages of foam architectures, such as improved density-compensated mechanical properties, acoustic damping, energy absorption at constant stress, and many others.
A second ongoing project centers on the development of metallic foams with continuous and customizable density gradients. We have developed and are now optimizing and characterizing a processing method for making such materials - for more information, see our upcoming report in the proceedings of the Metfoam 2005 conference!