At Texas A&M, faculty members and graduate students in the Materials group focus their research on all aspects of advanced materials—structure, properties, processing, performance and inspection—and on how these materials interact with applied stresses. Areas of research include ceramics, polymers, metals, composites, elasticity, plasticity, vibration, fracture mechanics, stress analysis, and physical properties.
Current research projects conducted by the Materials Laboratory involve a broad-based effort in the structure/property relationships of advanced materials. Exciting new materials under study include metal matrix composites, aluminides, plasma-sprayed coatings, polymeric coatings, carbon-carbon composites, aluminum-lithium alloys, and amorphous metals. Materials processing in manufacturing is also an area of significant activity. Several research efforts under way in the laboratory are visible at the national and international levels. These include:
• Superplasticity and Advanced Machining Techniques
• Elastic Properties in Advanced Materials
• Fracture Mechanics of Advanced Materials
• NDE Research
• Corrosion in Seawater
• Cryogenic Engineering and Applied Superconductivity
• Materials Synthesis
• Engineering Properties of Polymers and Polymeric Composites
• Polymer Processing
The Materials Laboratory facilities are unrivaled in the southwestern United States for mechanical testing and experimental fracture mechanics. The lab includes six MTS Servohydraulic mechanical testing machines, a Dynatup instrumented drop tower, instrumented Charpy impact test, and DECStation 5000 workstation. Other outstanding pieces of equipment are available in the amorphous materials, corrosion, deformation processing, low temperature materials, machining, and NDE laboratories. These include a universal test machine, impact test machine, MTS machines, autoclaves, hot isostatic press for materials processing, instrumented CNC milling and circuit board drilling machines, DC and AC electrochemical corrosion rate monitoring equipment, constant extension rate testers for environmental cracking studies, a corrosion fatigue machine, rolling mill, elastic modulus instruments, furnaces for temperatures up to 1500oC, cryogenic materials testing systems, an Instron tensile testing machine, heavy-duty Szegvari ball mill attritor, conventional single roller melt-spinner with RF heated crucible and Buhler single roller melt-spinner with high temperature arc furnace, a Nikon metallograph, two rotating beam fatigue machines, micro and macro hardness testers, ultrasonic pulsars, receivers, and flaw detectors. The Materials and Mechanics Laboratory also has ready access to the Electron Microscopy Center, VAX mainframe, and CRAY supercomputer.
PSERL has the best laboratory in the Southwest for polymer structure and morphology characterization in combination with engineering properties characterization and constitutive modeling, including MTS machines, tensile test machines, low angle X-ray scattering, light scattering, dynamic mechanical spectro-scopy, and a sliding plate rheometer. Polymer processing capabilities include injection molding, extrusion, and compression molding.