Materials World Networ: Collaborative Research: Theoretical, Computational and Experimental Studies of 3D Microstructural Evolution in Ultra-high Volume Fraction Coarsening Systems

Project: Research project

Project Details


Florida Institute of Technology and Penn State University in the US team up with Ulm University and the Technical University in Dresden, Germany, to address the fundamental problem of phase coarsening. The primary goal of this project is to understand the kinetics of phase coarsening at ultra-high (> 90%) volume fractions, which are expected to be fundamentally different from the classical Lifshitz/Slyozov/Wagner kinetics at vanishing volume fractions (~0%) as well as from the kinetics of grain growth in single-phase systems (100%). The team conducts a combination of theoretical, computational and experimental studies. Specific research activities include: (1) developing a new theory for phase coarsening at ultra-high volume fractions; (2) conducting large-scale phase-field simulations of complex three-dimensional (3D) microstructural evolution that will yield important information such as coarsening rates, the temporal evolution of particle-size distributions and correlation functions, etc.; (3) measuring the 3D coarsening behavior of real two-phase systems in situ using time-resolved x-ray microtomography; and (4) carrying out quantitative comparisons between theory, simulation and experiments. A quantitative understanding of 3D phase coarsening kinetics is crucial to the optimization of processing conditions for controlling the final structure and properties of multiphase materials. The volume fraction of the coarsening phase is a critical factor in determining the coarsening kinetics. Due to the daunting theoretical and experimental challenges posed by complex microstructures at high-volume fractions of the coarsening phase, existing theoretical work has been limited to low volume fractions (< ~30%), and most experimental characterization has been carried out solely in two dimensions (2D) by metallographic sectioning. However, recent advances in theoretical modeling, computational simulation and 3D microstructural characterization offer an unprecedented opportunity to overcome the difficulties inherent in the study of coarsening at ultra-high volume fractions. The specific thrusts of this project therefore lie in improving our understanding of fundamental materials phenomena, in discovering new kinetics associated with complex microstructures, and in advancing the state of the art of simulation and experimental tools for 3D microstructural evolution and properties. Students and junior researchers participating in this project travel to the counterpart institutions across the Atlantic in order to immerse themselves in theoretical, computational and experimental studies of 3-D microstructural evolution. Via the student exchange program, these young researchers profit from the opportunity to develop skills that complement the intensive training in theory, simulation, or experiment that they receive at their home institutions, resulting in a multifaceted educational experience. This award is co-funded by the NSF Office of International Science and Engineering.

Effective start/end date9/1/078/31/12


  • National Science Foundation: $265,000.00
  • National Science Foundation: $265,000.00


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