Professor Sean Lubner was awarded a prestigious YIP from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. His project, titled “Investigating Coupled Thermal, Mechanical, and Electrical Phenomena in High-Temperature Materials using Thermal Wave Sensors”, focuses on the use of thermal wave sensors (TWS) and a technique Lubner codeveloped to use them to comprehensively explore and understand the intricate interplay between thermal, mechanical, and electrical properties in high temperature solid materials.

Working with mainly ceramic composites, Lubner will seek to understand how these materials stay solid after hundreds of cycles up to 2000 degrees Celsius.

Normally it is hard to get a reading at these extreme temperatures but with these TWS we think we can achieve real time measurements to see what gives them that property.”

With this type of data, Lubner and his team can go on to build theoretical models that describe properties such as thermal conductivity and thermal transport in the ceramic and see how they are coupled to and interact with one another.

 Currently, we do not have a good way to model how this works and we do not have a robust measurement system or platform that is capable of accurately evaluating all these different properties. I’m excited to build these theoretical models to fill and push past this gap in our current knowledge.”

Developing this understanding will help the team learn how to control and tune such properties, leading to the creation of composite materials with enhanced performance and stability. These new materials can then be used for a variety of different applications any time you would need something that is strong, durable to high temperatures, and able to undergo fatigue of cycling, such as in car engines, or more cost-effective ways to store high temperature thermal energy.