Powerful Multilayered Materials for Aircraft Engines & Rocket Motors

When an airplane takes off, the materials in the hottest part of the engine reach about 90 percent of their melting temperature. For aircraft engines, rocket motors, and nuclear power plants, there is always pressure to make the parts inside stronger, more reliable, and more durable. With support from the National Science Foundation, materials scientist Tresa Pollock and a team at the University of California, Santa Barbara, are partnering with General Electric to develop new multilayered materials designed for high performance in extreme environments. Pollock's team is pioneering the use of new modeling tools to speed up the development process and using advanced computer algorithms and big data analysis to hone their designs before testing them. They've also designed and built a custom microscope that combines electron, ion, and laser beams to analyze the new materials for defects at the nanometer scale in three dimensions. This addition of the laser speeds up the process of gathering the information - what used to take six to nine months now takes a couple of days.