U.S. Department of Defense Awards Professor Nearly $400,000 Grant
August 19, 2015 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
EL PASO, Texas – David A. Roberson, Ph.D., assistant professor of metallurgical and materials engineering at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), has been awarded a research equipment grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for nearly $400,000.
This grant was awarded by the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program and will complement an ongoing research project funded under the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program, which was awarded to Roberson in 2014.
The funds will go toward purchasing equipment for the instrumentation, research and characterization of novel high-temperature polymeric materials and synthetic organic materials used as plastics and resins that are able to withstand higher temperatures."
The polymeric materials will be used for 3-D printing applications. The main equipment components that will be purchased through the grant are a low-voltage electron microscope, a portable spectrometer and a high-temperature polymer extruder.
"The purchased equipment will allow for a higher level of research to be performed and new discoveries to be made," said Roberson, who also is a faculty member at UTEP's W.M Keck Center for 3D Innovation. "We hope to understand and document critical aspects related to interfacial phenomena (surface science which focuses on the interface between a solid and a low-density gas or partial vacuum) and polymer alloying (where two or more polymers are blended together to create a new material with different physical properties) based on the data to be generated by this new equipment."
The Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering has mainly performed research on metallic material systems. The W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation has traditionally performed research in the Polymer Extrusion Lab (PEL) and demonstrated an ability to create 3-D printable materials with tailorable flexibility, radiation shield capability (ability to reflect radiant energy), and magnetic and dielectric properties.
"The base materials used were lower melting temperature polymers such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) – the material Lego blocks are made from – and polycarbonate," said Roberson. "This grant will allow for the 3-D printing of higher temperature polymers which are capable of being used as metal replacements and can be used in advanced aerospace and biomedical applications."
"We will be able to perform characterization of material systems which are currently not commonly used in 3-D printing and hope to become world leaders in this area," Roberson said. "With each new discovery, I am confident the recognition of UTEP will grow."