UCI Leads Team That Receives $1.3 Million Grant To Help Advance Commercial Uses Of Nanocrystalline Materials

Materials Are Known for Their Unusual Strength and Durability

Irvine, Calif., Aug. 26, 2003 — A research team led by UC Irvine engineering professor Farghalli A. Mohamed received $1.3 million from the National Science Foundation to set the parameters for designing and manufacturing products using nanocrystalline materials.

Engineers have already successfully used nanocrystals to create new materials that are harder, stronger and more wear-resistant than conventional materials, such as high-strength steel; however they don't know if these new materials can successfully be manufactured into commercial products.

"Before engineers can consider the widespread use of nanocrystalline materials, we need to test their strength, flexibility and failure rate," said Mohamed, professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and lead investigator.

As envisioned, the materials could be used to make super-strong and long-lasting parts for engines or other machines that are subject to continuous wear. The nanocrystals also might be added to plastics, ceramics and metals to make new types of composites for electronics, medical implants, cars and airplanes.

Nanocrystalline materials are specially engineered out of tiny crystals that range in size from one to 200 nanometers. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or roughly 10 atoms wide.

The research team includes James Earthman, professor of materials science and engineering at UCI; Bill Morris and Daryl Chrzan, professors of materials science and engineering at UC Berkeley; and Enrique Lavernia, dean of the engineering school at UC Davis.