Advanced Materials

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Mechanical Properties


Regardless of the application, materials must meet certain requirements of stiffness and strength.  These requirements are more stringent for materials used in structural applications, particularly under extreme environments, which are often found in energy-related applications.

ORNL has world-class capabilities and expertise to study the mechanical behavior of materials over a wide range of length scales (from nanometers to large structures) and conditions, such as uniaxial or multiaxial loading, strain rate (from 1x10-10s-1 to 1x103 s-1), temperature (from cryogenic conditions to 2300°C), load (from pN to MN), and environments (vacuum, air, or special environments). One example of the unique capabilities at ORNL to study the durability of materials for power generation is a microturbine that was modified to allow the placement of test specimens inside the combustion chamber while these are subjected to mechanical stresses.

ORNL has expertise in the mechanical behavior of a broad class of materials including metallic alloys, ceramics, glasses, polymers, concrete, refractories and composite materials, and in establishing relationships between their behavior and their microstructure.  Several instruments for mechanical evaluation of materials have been incorporated into X-ray and neutron sources and electron microscopes to investigate the effect of applied mechanical stress, temperature and environment on microstructure, phase composition and deformation.  

Ongoing work includes investigation of multi-physics coupled behavior that involves deformation, electric and magnetic fields.

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