Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine published a feature article about Michigan Tech’s new NASA Space Research Institute, headed by Greg Odegard (ME-EM). The institute will work on using carbon nanotubes to create a composite that is lighter and stronger than any material used in load-bearing structures today.
These students are designing materials tough enough to land on another planet.
The project, called the Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP), is led by Michigan Technological University professor Greg Odegard, who assembled the 11-university team of experts in computational mechanics and materials science. The problem NASA has set for them to solve: Use carbon nanotubes to create a composite that is lighter and stronger than any material used in load-bearing structures today. Odegard says high-powered computers at his university and others are the key to success.
Will Pisani is in his first year of work toward his Ph.D. at Michigan Tech, and he’s already started some of the computational modeling the institute will use.
Using molecular dynamics, Matt Radue, who is just about to receive his Ph.D. from Michigan Tech, has created models to simulate the formation or breakage of chemical bonds between atoms; he calculates, by programming Newton’s laws of motion into the models, the velocities and accelerations of the atoms under different conditions, such as changes in temperature.
Julie Tomasi loves it when the materials in the lab behave the way the computer models predict. Tomasi, also pursuing a Ph.D. at Michigan Tech, has tested the mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties of epoxy with various embedded fillers, such as graphene (a carbon particle lattice).