Newsletter, May 2015

    MIT Materials News that Matters
    May 2015
    Materials Processing Center at MIT
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    Faculty Highlight: W. Craig Carter
    A Mathematical Bent: Materials Science Professor develops algorithms to solve problems across disciplines; strengthens online teaching techniques.
    MIT POSCO Professor of Materials Science and Engineering W. Craig Carter 

    Whether he's tackling thermodynamics and kinetics of batteries, modeling solid-state dewetting or undertaking an artistic collaboration, MIT Professor W. Craig Carter
     brings a mathematical approach to solving problems and creating new work, developing fresh algorithms for each venture. He also is developing new paradigms for online materials science education, melding factual instruction with critical thinking and programming skills.

    "I've gone from topic to topic pretty rapidly, and it kind of stems from an applied mathematical bent that I've always had in my career," says Carter, 54, POSCO Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. "That gives you the ability to jump into a topic, find what problems are useful to be solved and either do kind of a theoretical development or do simulations which shed insight onto materials phenomena."

    On the scientific side, Carter collaborates closely with fellow DMSE Professor Yet-Ming Chiang, whose experimental prowess complements Carter's computational skills, while on the artistic side, Carter partners frequently with Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences Neri Oxman in creating nature-inspired sculptural objects.     

    Materials Science Master Class
    MIT Professor W. Craig Carter leads collaborative effort to build materials science curriculum online using tutorial approach with integrated programming and active student engagement.
     In the
    In the "Edge Dislocation"" tutorial students learn about  edge dislocations, which are one-dimensional defects in crystals that influence their mechanical properties.

    In a world where average Web page engagement is often measured in seconds, MIT Professor W. Craig Carter is intentionally slowing down his online course presentation to engage materials science students in a "Master Class" model built around students interacting with an instructor.

    Imagine cellist Yo-Yo Ma holding a Master Class for a dozen students with another few dozen observing, Carter suggests. "Yo-Yo Ma might play a few notes on the cello and then make comments about those notes, and then he might ask a student, try to repeat that with your own cello," Carter explains. "And so the student will do that. The student inevitably makes a mistake and receives some very kind criticism from Yo-Yo Ma. So the student clearly benefits from that interaction, but the students who are sitting in the room listening to the critique and how the student is doing - the playback - also receive a benefit. That's where real learning takes place; not only is it the theory associated with practicing something, but it's practicing itself."

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    Modeling Solid State Thin Film Dewetting
    MIT PhD graduate Rachel Zucker models break-up phenomena in microscale to nanoscale thin films.
     MIT graduate student Rachel V. Zucker, center, works at a new TEM with Prof. Christina Scheu, left, and Alexander Muller at the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research in Dusseldorf. Scheu hosted Zucker in collaboration with the MISTI-Germany seed fund.
    MIT graduate student Rachel V. Zucker, center, works at a new TEM with Prof. Christina Scheu, left, and Alexander Muller at the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research in Dusseldorf. Scheu hosted Zucker in collaboration with the MISTI-Germany seed fund.

    Excess surface energy from unsatisfied bonds is a significant driver of dimensional changes in thin film materials, whether formation of holes, contracting edges or run-away corners. In general, this break-up of a material is known as dewetting. MIT graduate student, Rachel V. Zucker, who receives her PhD on June 5, has developed a range of mathematical solutions to explain various dewetting phenomena in solid films.

    Working with collaborators at MIT as well as in Germany and Italy, Zucker, 28, developed a model for calculating fully-faceted edge retraction in two dimensions, but she says, the crown jewel of her work is a phase field approach that provides a general method to simulate dewetting.

    Thin film materials range from about one micrometer (micron) down to just a few nanometers in thickness. Nanometer scale films are the basic building blocks for circuit boards in electronic and electrochemical devices, and are patterned into wires, transistors and other components. Zucker developed models for what happens to thin films over time. "They have a lot of surface area compared to their volume, just because they are so thin, especially in one dimension, and so that can actually amount to a huge driving force for the thin film to change its shape," she says.

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    De-Stressing Lithium Batteries
    Modeling mechanical stress in solid-state lithium batteries yields insights into battery microstructure for MIT postdoctoral associate Giovanna Bucci.
    MIT postdoctoral associate Giovanna Bucci developed  modeling tools to explore the complex mechanical and  electrochemical interactions of lithium ions with battery materials. 
    To overcome the danger of fires and increase the energy density of lithium batteries, researchers are developing solid-state lithium batteries that replace flammable liquid electrolytes with a safer solid electrolyte. These solid-state lithium batteries are like a tightly connected sandwich of cathode, electrolyte and anode, and a common problem is separation of these layers from each other and mechanical degradation within the layers, which leads to weaker battery performance and eventual failure. "In particular, for all solid-state batteries, the mechanical degradation is very significant for the durability of the battery," explains MIT postdoctoral associate Giovanna Bucci.MIT postdoctoral associate Giovanna Bucci developed modeling tools to explore the complex mechanical and electrochemical interactions of lithium ions with battery materials. Mechanical stress is a significant force in batteries made of all solid materials, causing separation of electrolytes from electrodes and causing individual particles of battery materials to become isolated and unable to effectively transfer energy, leading to deteriorating battery performance, and eventually to battery failure.

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    Upcoming Events
    OSA Advanced Photonics Congress, Omni Parker House Hotel, Boston, USA,
    June 27-July 1, 2015.
    2015 MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit, Boston, Mass., Nov. 29 - Dec. 4, 2015.
    Summer Scholars

    12 MPC-CMSE Summer Scholars arrive on campus June 7 for nine weeks of research in MIT labs. 

    About MPC

    The goals of the Materials Processing Center are to unite the materials research community at MIT and to enhance Institute-industry interactions. Collaboration on research ventures, technology transfer, continuing education of industry personnel, and communication among industrial and governmental entities are our priorities. The MPC 
    Industry Collegium is a major vehicle for this collaboration. The MPC sponsors seminars and workshops, as well as a summer internship for talented undergraduates from universities across the U.S. We encourage interdisciplinary research collaborations and provide funds management assistance to faculty.
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