Thomas O’Connor Wins Ken Hass Outstanding Student Paper Award

Mar 16, 2016 | No Comments | By Jessica Ader

Congratulations to HEMI graduate student Thomas O’Connor for winning the Ken Hass Outstanding Student Paper Award from The American Physical Society’s (APS) Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics (FIAP)!

Thomas was recognized at the March FIAP meeting for his work titled, Chain Ends and the Ultimate Tensile Strength of Polyethylene Fibers”.

The paper answers the question, “What is the strongest polyethylene fiber you can make?” Thomas and other researchers used very large molecular dynamics simulations to study how crystalline polyethylene fails when it is subjected to heavy loads. Their simulations agree well with experiments, and they discover that the polyethylene crystal fails because chains slip out of place at their chain ends. In science jargon: 1 dimensional (1D) dislocations nucleate at the chain ends and cause chain slip. They found that they can understand these 1D dislocations by using a simple analytic model. The simple model works very well, which is exciting, because it means they can quickly and easily use this simple theory to study polyethylene and other polymers without having to run such expensive simulations.

 The Ken Hass Outstanding Student Paper Award pays homage to the many contributionshe made in the industrial applications of physics (especially automotive applications of theoretical solid-state physics) and of his service to the American Physical Society. As Director of the Physics Department at Ford Research, Ken Hass was strongly committed to promoting science education at the pre-college and college level. The award was endowed in 2011 by FIAP.

More of Thomas’s work within the polymers field can be found on page 54 of the 2015 issue of the CMEDE Highlights.


Thomas O'Connor (right) receives the Thomas Hass Outstanding Student Paper Award at the FIAP March meeting.

Thomas O’Connor (right) receives the Thomas Hass Outstanding Student Paper Award at the FIAP March meeting.

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