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MEDE CRA completes 10-year program to advance armor materials with capstone event

The Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Collaborative Research Alliance (MEDE CRA) culminated its 10-year program with a virtual capstone event, co-hosted by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory (DEVCOM ARL) and Johns Hopkins University. More than 180 people participated in the event, including principal investigators and students from consortium universities, Army researchers and industry partners. Representatives from U.S. Army Futures Command, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, Office of Naval Research, National Ground Intelligence Center, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and other DEVCOM subordinate organizations participated as well.

The MEDE CRA is a basic research program led by Johns Hopkins University. The program includes a consortium of 25 university and research partners located in 13 states and three foreign countries. MEDE has developed a materials-by-design strategy, which has resulted in innovative protection materials and computational design codes for armor applications. These new concepts will support the Soldier Lethality and Next Generation Combat Vehicle modernization priorities. According to DEVCOM ARL Dr. Patrick Baker, MEDE successfully achieved its mission by focusing on the three key elements of a basic research program: relevance, team, and science.

Maj. Gen. Edmond “Miles” Brown, DEVCOM commanding general, highlighted the capstone with a keynote address. He described a multinational force that was attacked while on patrol during a deployment to Afghanistan. The body armor they wore provided the necessary protection to survive the attack and make it back home safely. Additionally, Brown described the evolution of body armor from the time he entered the U.S. Army to present day, and the importance of basic research programs like the MEDE CRA.

Sen. Ben Cardin and Sen. Christopher Van Hollen of Maryland expressed their congratulations to the MEDE CRA. Cardin noted that MEDE has graduated 76 PhD students and transitioned 55 postdoctoral fellows. More than 200 undergraduates participated in research activities; 62 of whom were from HBCUs and minority serving institutions. This highlights the program’s real dedication to inclusivity and diversity, he said. Van Hollen added that MEDE will help save American lives and keep troops safer for years to come.

Officials said a hallmark of the MEDE CRA is its impact on workforce development. Including the university faculty, students, postdoctoral fellows, and DEVCOM ARL researchers, over 600 individuals have been involved in the MEDE research. These individuals include high school and undergraduate student apprentices sponsored through DEVCOM’s Army Educational Outreach Program, and the Army Research Office’s partnered research initiative for HBCUs and minority serving institutions. The MEDE CRA ensured these valuable opportunities were incorporated into the core research program.

Prof. Lori Graham-Brady of Johns Hopkins and Dr. Sikhanda Satapathy for DEVCOM ARL presented the numerous accomplishments of the MEDE CRA. According to Dr. Satapathy, the goal of the program was to look at the materials or different material classes at different scales, starting from the atomistic scale to the application scale. To achieve this, the MEDE program developed a rigorous mechanism-driven materials-by-design strategy that resulted in new magnesium alloys, boron carbide, and glass-epoxy composites.

In each material, MEDE was able to achieve a weight reduction and improved performance. These discoveries were translated into computational design codes which assisted in validating the experimental data. Industry partners were able to scale-up the laboratory produced materials for ballistic evaluation at DEVCOM ARL.

Graham-Brady said by improving these armor materials they will have a real impact on keeping people safe, which, she said, motivated much of the research.

The capstone included a MEDE CRA video, which provided an overview and successes of the program.

The impact of MEDE to the broader science community will be felt for years, Graham-Brady said. To date, MEDE university personnel and DEVCOM ARL researchers have authored 478 peer-reviewed journal articles. These articles have been cited over 8,000 times. To ensure the legacy of the MEDE CRA, special edition journals featuring MEDE research have been published.

Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels expressed his appreciation to the U.S. Army for sponsoring the MEDE CRA. Johns Hopkins’ partnership with the Department of Defense was seeded in 1940 with the creation of the National Defense Research Committee. MEDE’s innovations will continue to shape the future of the government-university research through the doctoral students and postdocs now working in DOD and national laboratories, academia and global industry.

MEDE CRA Completes 10th Annual Fall Meeting

The Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Collaborative Research Alliance (MEDE CRA) conducted its tenth and final Fall Meeting on November 17th, 2021. As the lead research organization of the CRA, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) hosts the event. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this event was held using a virtual format.

The Fall Meeting brings the entire MEDE CRA together for a program overview and technical discussions in preparation for the January 2022 capstone event. This year’s Fall Meeting was attended by 117 individuals including special guests from the DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory (ARL), DEVCOM Soldier Center, United Kingdom’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Command,  and the National Ground Intelligence Center. Professor Lori Graham-Brady (JHU) and Dr. Sikhanda Satapathy (ARL) led the meeting, which highlighted the research accomplishments for new metallic, ceramic, and composite protection materials, as well as new computational design codes and tools for armor applications. Dr. Scott Schoenfeld, ARL’s Senior Research Scientist for Terminal Ballistics provided keynote remarks. The meeting also featured a virtual poster session with 41 presenters from across the MEDE CRA.

The MEDE CRA is an integral part of the ARL’s Enterprise for Multiscale Research of Materials. The objective of the MEDE CRA is to develop the capability to design, optimize, and fabricate material systems exhibiting revolutionary performance in extreme dynamic environments. The approach is to realize a mechanism-based, “materials-by-design” capability that focuses on advancing the fundamental understanding of materials in relevant high-strain-rate and high-stress regimes. Model materials in the areas of metals, ceramics, and composites are being investigated to improve protection for soldiers and vehicles.

CMEDE Partners with CoorsTek to Fabricate Armor Materials

The Center for Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments (CMEDE) has partnered with CoorsTek, a manufacturer of technical ceramics, to develop advanced ceramic materials for military armor applications.

Due to its potential for improvements in ballistic performance for soldier protection at very low weight, boron carbide was studied as a model material in CMEDE.  CMEDE researchers worked in close collaboration with researchers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and Rutgers University to enhance our understanding of boron carbide in order to develop new formulations and processing routes for this material. These new formulations have shown significant improvements in key properties like hardness, strength, and toughness. Partnering with CoorsTek allowed CMEDE to scale-up from creating laboratory-sized specimens to industrial-sized plates.

Prof. Lori Graham-Brady, director of CMEDE, says this partnership is critical.  “The partnership between CMEDE and CoorsTek demonstrates a major transition. With the ability to create and test new materials at a large scale, we can further improve upon ceramic materials that will protect our military and save soldiers’ lives.”

U.S. Army soldier in tan and green fatigues holding ceramic plate used in body armor

CMEDE Collaborative Agreement Manager Dr. Sikhanda Satapathy Speaks to SIGNAL About MEDE CRA Collaboration with Army Research Lab to Research Protection Materials

Since 2012, the Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Collaborative Research Alliance (MEDE CRA) is working with the United States Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory (DEVCOM ARL) to research extreme environment materials. They aim to create materials that will protect soldiers and equipment from weapons that are appearing, and may appear in the future, in combat.

In a recent article published by SIGNAL, Sikhanda Satapathy, collaborative agreement manager of the MEDE CRA, says that the materials being researched (metals, ceramics, and composites) will need to withstand military conditions, which are more extreme in pressure, stress, and strain rate than the conditions that arise in commercial use. These materials will also need to be minimal in weight to reduce the strain on soldiers, improve mobility, and maximize fuel efficiency.

The metal research is focused on reducing weight, so the ARL is examining magnesium, one of the lightest structural metals available. Because it is lower in strength and has inherent failure mechanisms, research is centered on identifying and ameliorating these failure mechanisms. Another prong of the research is to develop a magnesium alloy strong enough to avoid these failure mechanisms, and the knowledge gained from the creation of the alloy will also apply to research of other metals, such as aluminum and steel.

Ceramics are five times as strong but also five times more brittle than metal. The ceramics research, a collaboration between the ARL and MEDE CRA members Johns Hopkins and Rutgers University, is focused on achieving a high hardness level and high tensile strength for the material. One approach is to use boron carbide as a ceramic material and to strengthen its crystal structure with molecular materials, given its amorphous shear tendency that reduces the material’s crystal integrity. Doping the boron carbide with silicon reduces the shear tendency but also reduces strength; adding titanium diboride eliminates the reduction of strength. They are looking at ways to scale production for larger samples for further testing.

Composite research is conducted by the ARL and MEDE CRA member, the University of Delaware, and is focused on examining a glass-epoxy composite’s tendency for failure. Coating individual fibers chemically can help prevent the fiber from failing. By adding different materials to the composite, they strengthened the composites and are now looking to scale production to create larger samples for further testing.

Learn more about the materials being researched here.

Learn more about DEVCOM ARL here.

2018 CMEDE Highlights Showcases Research and Collaboration Within the Program

We are pleased to release the CMEDE Highlights for 2018. This issue illustrates the unique aspects of our activities, recaps some of our significant events, and showcases a small sampling of the programs and people within each of our materials research groups (ceramics, composites, and metals). We are excited to share these accomplishments with you, as they have broad and deep impacts on our scientific and technological capabilities and allow us to developing a new workforce educated in the up-and-coming possibilities of materials-by-design. We are positive that the advances we are making in the science and the workforce will have great impact on the protection of our military personnel and vehicles.

We encourage you to take a peek and learn more about CMEDE!

MEDE Program Provides Contributions and Insight to National Academies Workshop on Combat Vehicle Weight Reduction

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently published a workshop report which included the scientific and materials-by-design approaches of the MEDE program. Hosted by the National Materials and Manufacturing Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in December 2014, the public workshop discussed future advances in weight reduction by materials substitution for vehicles, including such topics as armor, structure, automotive parts, and armaments. Participants included members of military research laboratories and researchers from industry and academia.

CMEDE Director, Prof. KT Ramesh provided a presentation titled, “The Science of Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments” which highlighted the key research activities of modeling and simulation, bridging the scales, advanced experimental techniques, multiscale material metrics and characterization, and processing and synthesis. The MEDE objective, Ramesh noted, is to establish the capability to design materials for use in specific dynamic environments. This includes developing fundamental understanding in multiscale materials and ultra-high loading rate environments, executing a basic research program, and enhancing and fostering cross-disciplinary and cross-organizational collaboration. These activities are enabled through the MEDE consortium which is composed of 18 university/research partners working in close coordination with the Army Research Laboratory.

The workshop report is available at:

Lehigh University Researchers Join MEDE CRA

We are pleased to welcome Professor Martin Harmer, the Alcoa Foundation Distinguished Professor of Material Science and Engineering and Dr. Chris Marvel, postdoctoral research associate from Lehigh University to the MEDE CRA.  The title of their research activity is: “Atomic-Resolution Characterization of Boron Icosahedra Ceramics,” and will involve scanning transmission electron microscopy imaging and chemical analysis techniques to compare structure and chemistry of different processed boron-rich ceramics.  These activities will be integrated into the synthesis and processing supertask within the Ceramics CMRG.


MEDE CRA Gathers for Annual Fall Meeting

The Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Collaborative Research Alliance (MEDE CRA) conducted its Fall Meeting on October 10th, 2018. As lead research organization of the CRA, Johns Hopkins University hosts the event.

The MEDE Fall Meeting is an annual, closed event that brings the entire MEDE CRA together for program overviews, collaborative activities and discussion. In 2018, the event was attended by 130 individuals including special guests from the United Kingdom’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory; US Army Engineer Research and Development Center and members of the MEDE Science Advisory Board. Professor K.T. Ramesh (JHU) and Dr. John Beatty (ARL) led the meeting, which focused on technical collaboration across the MEDE CRA and program planning for the upcoming year.

The MEDE CRA is an integral part of ARL’s Enterprise for Multiscale Research of Materials. The objective of the MEDE CRA is to develop the capability to design, optimize, and fabricate material systems exhibiting revolutionary performance in extreme dynamic environments. The approach is to realize a mechanism-based, “materials-by-design” capability that focuses on advancing the fundamental understanding of materials in relevant high-strain-rate and high-stress regimes. Model materials in the areas of metals, ceramics, composites and polymers are being investigated to improve protection for soldiers and vehicles.

Six Congressional Staffers Visit CMEDE Laboratories

On Monday, July 30th, Maryland Congressional Defense Legislative Staffers representing the offices of Senator Ben Cardin, Senator Van Hollen, Congressman Ruppersberger, Congressman Sarbanes, and Congressman Hoyer visited HEMI to learn more about our CMEDE-related activities and to view our laboratories.

The Center for Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments is a multi-institutional collaborative research center located within the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute at Johns Hopkins University. The Center brings together academia, government, and industry to advance the state of the art for materials in extreme dynamic environments.

The Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments (MEDE) program is investigating three material systems which have significant potential for improving protection performance. Johns Hopkins University leads the MEDE Collaborative Research Alliance which includes partners across 10 states, the United Kingdom, and Germany. These partners, in close collaboration with the Army Research Laboratory, are leading the development of a materials-by-design capability integrating state-of-the-art experiments, advanced computational models, and synthesis and processing.