RET-REU Research Projects

STEM RET NSF Summer Program for TeachersPotential Projects:

University of Dayton:

High Strain Rate Testing of Automotive Materials: The automotive industry is facing new requirements for light-weighting vehicles while improving the occupant and vehicle safety during impact events. Lighter weight metals, such as aluminum and magnesium, are replacing steel in many areas. Fiber filled polymers and composites are new materials being incorporated into both interior and exterior components. The material models used to predict the behavior of composites and filled polymers during impact requires high strain rate data input. The Structures and Materials Evaluation Group at UDRI (UD campus) is one of a few laboratories in the world that can generate this type of data. The project will give teachers hands on experience in the use of measurement tools for coupon measurement, strain gaging, use of the digital image correlation system (DIC) for strain measurement, use of graphing and analytical software for calculating the material response, and generating high strain rate material properties.

Central State University:

Innovative Natural Composites: This project will involve designing innovative nanocelluloses from natural resources for use in composite materials and manufacturing processes. The use of cellulosic nanomaterials is gaining momentum in manufacturing applications because they are renewable in nature, tunable in mechanical and chemical properties, and capable of being modified for different applications. Near-term processing of these materials requires them to be scalable for manufacturing purposes. This RET team will interact with professionals who have significant expertise in manufacturing engineering, horticulture production, greenhouse management, and the Tawawa Woods natural area adjacent to the CSU campus which provides one of the highest plant diversity of any woodlot in the region to serve as a cellulose resource for the RET team. Team members will be exposed to chemical analysis and extraction of cellulose from different mesophytic woody species, scanning electron microscopy and mechanical testing for analysis of fiber thickness and tensile strength, respectively, to determine feasibility of use of various locally grown cellulose fibers as a starting nanomaterial. Cellulose materials will be isolated, extracted, and further processed into a composite matrix for potential use in manufacturing of novel bio- or polymeric materials. This innovative project is of significant interest to the CSU community as a focus area for land grant research.

Advanced Formulary Dyes and Pigments for Scalable Materials and Manufacturing Processes: This project is in partnership with Iya Color Technology Laboratories and will focus on developing innovative and advanced formulary dyes and pigments for scalable materials and manufacturing processes. Such formularies will be used for printing and packaging inks, architectural and textile dying, automotive and aerospace coatings, as well as food and non-food based colorants. Synthesizing and characterizing dyes and printing inks require the use of resins that yield desired properties of adhesion, flexibility, and chemical resistance. Through synthesis and characterization of pure and organic compounds, this project will increase participant knowledge in various classes of dyes, colorants, and pigments for a wide variety of uses where color is needed in the private and government sectors. Participants will analyze their developed products with various instrumental and materials characterization techniques making use of spectroscopic, chromatographic, colorimetric, and film adherent techniques to test processing parameters on a variety of metallic, polymeric, and natural substrates used for printing purposes. These formulary systems are of significant interest to our industrial and governmental partners, because the development of new products relies on the application of sustainable resources in the experimental design.

Scale-Up of Nanoparticle Dispersion Processes for Electrically Conductive Polymers: In this project, 1-3 RET teacher/researchers will investigate the conditions in pilot scale equipment that influence the uniform dispersion of carbon based nanoparticles in polymers intended for electrically and thermally conductive applications. The issue of nanoparticle dispersion in polymers and its impact on electrical properties has been studied extensively on the laboratory scale over the past 10-15 years. Although we are beginning to understand the process in some detail, even less is known about the scale up of these processes from the laboratory (~100 g) to the pilot plant scale (10 kg+). In the proposed project, the RET personnel will make use of a unique pilot scale dispersion facility established by the University of Dayton Research Institute in 2003, which currently resides on UD campus. Processes such as 3-roll mills, twin-screw extruders, and solvent-based mixers will be used to prepare pilot scale quantities of polymer nanocomposite. Electrical and thermal properties will be measured with techniques such as electrical resistivity (4-point probe), flash diffusivity, and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Also, techniques such as optical microscopy, image analysis, and scanning electron microscopy will be used to characterize the degree of dispersion.

Wright State University:

Graphene-based electrode Materials for lithium storage-Project Mentor, Dr. Huang: High power density rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are viable power supplies for electric vehicles because they are superior to other conventional batteries in energy density, charging/discharging rate, and cycle life. This research is focused on developing electrode material with high-density and fast energy storage capabilities. The team will comprehensively study the feasibility of a class of materials – Nano-Graphene Platelets (NGPs)-based nanocomposites – for serving as the advanced electrode materials in lithium-ion batteries or capacitor-battery hybrid systems. The research objective is to electrochemically investigate lithium storage behaviors to fundamentally understand mechanism/ kinetics. Three tiers of research will proceed within this topic: 1) chemically synthesize NGP-based nanocomposites; 2) determine Li-storage potentials and rate capability in these novel materials; 3) formulate a correlation between composite composition and structures with lithium storage performances.

Additive Manufacturing of Metal-Matrix Nanocomposites: Metal matrix nanocomposites (MMNCs) are being investigated for possible automobile, aerospace, and military applications for their lightweight, high strength characteristics. Traditional manufacturing has limited success in creating complex parts with multifunctional hierarchical materials. By using an additive manufacturing process and Direct Metal Laser sintering (DMLS) to create the hierarchical composites, some of these issues may be mitigated. The project will be performed in collaboration with an industry partner, Mound laser and Photonics Center (MLPC). The teacher group working on this project will work both at WSU and MLPC facilities. A commitment letter from MLPC is attached with the proposal for reference. The team will create SiC nanoparticle reinforced titanium matrix composites samples using various process parameters such as laser power and scanning speed. The samples will be fabricated at MLPC using its internally developed additive manufacturing equipment. The samples will be characterized mechanically using a mechanical tester and will be cross-sectioned to understand microstructure and phase evolution for different process conditions. Mechanical testing and microstructural analysis will be performed at WSU.

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Dr. Margie Pinnell

Kettering Laboratories 565 
300 College Park 
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0254