Army Research Office Awards Tim Rupert Young Investigator Grant
May 6, 2016 - The Department of Defense’s Army Research Office has selected Tim Rupert for a Young Investigator Program (YIP) award. A UC Irvine assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, Rupert works on next-generation structural materials.
Rupert’s research involves engineering better metallic materials at the nanoscale level, where the grain boundaries between crystals affect a material’s mechanical properties. By introducing different elements that change the way those crystals interact, he has been able to design a material that is both super strong and highly ductile (able to bend and stretch).
“We are changing the chemistry,” explains Rupert. “If we choose the right mixture of atoms, we can optimize the properties of strength and ductility.”
The YIP funding (a total of $359,100 spread over three years) will allow Rupert’s team to scale up the project, going beyond the proof of concept stage, and experiment with designing these enhanced materials in bulk form.
“Down the line, these new materials could replace steel, for example, so that when building a bridge or a skyscraper, we might need less material, resulting in a lighter structure,” says Rupert. “We need structural materials to be ductile so that they do not fail catastrophically. If, for example, we made a bridge from a brittle material like a ceramic, it would shatter into a million pieces during an earthquake.“
With this award, Rupert achieves a trifecta for assistant professors. A year ago, he was selected for an Early Career Research Program grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, and in 2013, he won the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation.
The Young Investigator Program seeks to attract outstanding young university faculty members to the Army’s research program by funding their work and encouraging their teaching and research careers.