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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.

2019 Research Highlight: Predicting Particle-initiated Failure during Dynamic Loading in Magnesium

CMEDE Researchers
Dr. Jeffrey Lloyd
CCDC Army Research Laboratory
Dr. Richard Becker
CCDC Army Research Laboratory
Dr. Timothy Walter
CCDC Army Research Laboratory
Professor Jamie Kimberley
New Mexico Tech
Mr. Andrew Matejunas
New Mexico Tech
Professor Justin Wilkerson
Texas A&M University
Ms. Angela Olinger
Texas A&M University

Strengthening in metals is accomplished either by introducing defects in the material through deformation or by the introduction of alloying elements. Alloying magnesium is essential for increasing its strength so that it can resist deformation during high rate loading events such as penetration. However, clusters of these alloying elements, called precipitates, act as nucleation sites for damage that leads to failure. In order to predict how a high strength magnesium alloy fails we need to be able to account for failure that initiates at these precipitates. In this collaborative work between researchers at ARL and Texas A&M, we develop a model that takes in 3d images of second phase particles in magnesium alloys and simulates how these particles cause the material to fail under dynamic tension. Model predictions are compared with dynamic tension experiments performed at New Mexico Tech to ensure that the predictions give physically meaningful results.

In most metals the alloying elements tend to precipitate preferentially on certain material planes. In magnesium this effect is amplified due to the material’s strong texture. Therefore, not only does the material’s strength differ along different directions, but the clusters of precipitates are also strongly directional. Computer simulations showed that when the directionality of precipitates was not included in the failure predictions, the predicted failure behavior was opposite from what was experimentally observed. Only when the experimentally measured precipitate shapes were included did predictions of the failure behavior match the experiments.

Computer simulations at this scale require a level of detail that is not suitable for engineering-scale simulations of large structures. Therefore, researchers are currently determining how we can extract the essential features of these simulations and map them onto a model that efficiently correlates the underlying precipitate morphology to the macroscale failure behavior.

Learn more about Metals CMRG research 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!

Building Better Armor: CMEDE Research Showcased in JHU Engineering Magazine

Building Better Vehicle Armor

Beatriz Medeiros
(Image: Will Kirk / Homewood Photography)

The average soldier carries at least 60 pounds of gear, with some specialized fighters carrying loads almost twice that weight. A significant portion of this is body armor. Typically made of a combination of ceramic and polymer materials, body armor worn by infantry members weighs  about 30 pounds.

This equipment is critical for the job, shielding vital organs from the potentially lethal shock of bullets and other projectiles. But even though modern body armor works pretty well for what it’s intended to do, explains Beatriz Medeiros, a third-year materials science and engineering student at the Whiting School, it can be cumbersome.

To lighten soldiers’ loads and to improve their protection within military vehicles, Medeiros is working in the lab of Timothy Weihs, a professor in her department, to develop new types of vehicle armor materials. She recently received the prestigious Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program internship, which is co-sponsored by the Army Research Office and the Center for Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments (CMEDE). CMEDE is the Army’s largest, basic research program focused on improving protection materials for military applications and is located within the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute. Together, these sources provided the financial support that made it possible for her to continue her research at Johns Hopkins over the summer.

Medeiros is working to produces an alloy which, after proper thermomechanical processing, can form nano-precipitates that can slow down or block dislocations, the atomic-scale defects in materials that are produced and then propagate upon impact.

“A soldier’s job is hard enough,” Medeiros says. “By improving their armor, we’re hoping to make their jobs a little bit easier.”To further strengthen these alloys, Medeiros, under the mentorship of graduate student Suhas Eswarappa Prameela, is exploring different thermomechanical processing methods. These include rolling, which presses the material between two rollers, and equal channel angular extrusion, which pulls it through an L-shaped chamber. Both methods can change the material’s average crystal grain size  and precipitate size, which in turn affects its strength.

Click here to view all articles in JHU Engineering magazine.

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: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23562/combat-vehicle-weight-reduction-by-materials-substitution-proceedings-of-a

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.

Four Morgan State University Students Selected for 2018 Extreme Science Internships


Congratulations to the following Morgan State University students who have been selected to receive a 2018 Extreme Science Internship: Tyler Amory-Moody, Michael Guy, Fifita Nafetalai, and Michael Straker. These students will spend this summer at Johns Hopkins University working in research groups of HEMI faculty members. In addition to gaining research experience, they will have the opportunity to develop personal connections students, postdocs and faculty members.

Seven Students to Conduct Research with MEDE CRA via Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program

We are pleased to welcome the seven students who will be completing research at one of the universities within the Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Collaborative Research Alliance (MEDE CRA)! As a part of the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP), the following students are given the opportunity to work alongside university researchers for an authentic science and engineering experience.

  • Krishna Bhutada (Rutgers) – working with Prof. Richard Haber and Dr. Atta Ullah Khan
  • Chaitanya Daksha (UDel) – working with Prof. Jack Gillespie
  • Stephanie Hernandez (JHU) – working with Prof. Tim Weihs
  • Sean Kennedy (UDel) – working with Prof. Jack Gillespie and Prof. John L. Burmeister
  • Beatriz Medeiros (JHU) – working with Prof. Tim Weihs
  • Kaitlin Wang (Rutgers) – working with Prof. Richard Haber
  • Ethan Wise (UDel) – working with Prof. Jack Gillespie

The URAP program runs in close collaboration with and is sponsored by the Army Research Laboratory.

URAP is one of several STEM educational opportunities sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP). For more information on AEOP, visit them at: http://www.usaeop.com/.