Materials Processing and Manufacturing

Materials processing involves a complex series of chemical, thermal, and physical processes that prepare a starting material, create a shape, retain that shape, and refine the structure and shape. The goal of materials processing is to develop the structural features (e.g., crystal structure, microstructure, size, and shape) needed for the product to perform well in its intended application. Materials processing is central to the field of materials science and engineering and is a vital step in manufacturing.

The conversion of the starting material to the final product occurs in three steps: preparation of the starting material, processing operation, and post-processing operation(s). The processing operations can be divided into five categories based on the state of matter most important to the process: melt, solid, powder, dispersion or solution, and vapor. Metals, ceramics, and polymers are formed by operations in each of the categories so that common scientific and engineering principles can be understood and applied to various types of materials.

Expertise in materials science goes well beyond understanding the properties of materials and how those properties can be applied. Materials scientists must also be adept at developing cost-effective techniques to synthesize, process and fabricate advanced materials that can meet the demands of a rapidly changing commercial marketplace.

  • Semiconductor process modeling
  • Phase transformation
  • Ceramic-polymer composites using sol-gel techniques
  • Microstructural evolution
  • Vapor deposition of diamond-like films
  • Development of fiber-optic glasses
  • Vitrification of industrial waste
  • Fabrication and testing of advanced micro composite materials
  • High-rate forming techniques for net shape forming
  • High-temperature intermetallic materials
  • Sheet metal forming
  • Control of microstructures and porosity in die castings
  • Magnetron sputtering of laminated composites
  • Processing of ceramic composites from metallic precursors
  • Controlled crystal orientations in high Tc ceramic superconductors
  • Modeling of the chemical vapor deposition process