This program supports basic research in the design, processing, and characterization of novel composite materials to enable transformative enhancement in their performance through understanding of the chemistry, physics, and mechanics in heterogeneously structured materials. Such materials are aimed to significantly impact the structural design of future U.S. Air Force platforms including airframes, space vehicles, satellites, and a multitude of load-bearing systems. Key scientific areas supported by the program include: materials discovery, collective phenomena in heterogeneous materials, innovative processing concepts, interface science, and new material behavior prediction tools.
Basic Research Objectives
Proposals are sought to advance the understanding of heterogeneously structured materials and the ability to design, model, and fabricate multiscale, hierarchical composite materials with collective properties not achievable in monolithic materials. Among the routes to achieving game-changing improvements in compositionally and topologically optimized materials, current emphases within the program are: (1) advanced structural materials with exceptional temperature capabilities; (2) design and processing of configurationally complex materials across multiple length scales; (3) understanding of interfacial phenomenon in heterogeneous systems; (4) concepts for integrated functionalities on the material level; and 5) computation and characterization methodologies to interrogate the behavior of heterogeneous materials in harsh environments.
On materials discovery, the priority is placed on high temperature capabilities in polymer resin, fibers/coatings/reinforcements, and ceramics. Potential approaches include, but are not limited to, new processing methodology, novel microstructural configuration by design, and/or material heterogeneity in multiple length scales. The utilization of topological arrangement (phase distribution on nano- to micro-scale), phase transformation, coupling effects, and material texture to optimize macroscopic properties is of interest. Topics of interest on materials processing include, but are not limited to, polymer-derived ceramics, rheology of organic-inorganic/heterogeneous mixture, and field-assisted sintering. The proposed research must be based on fundamental understanding of the chemistry, thermodynamics, reaction mechanisms and kinetics, short- and long-range coupling, and/or structure-property relationships of the candidate materials. Metal-based materials, while not excluded, are not a priority for the program.
The understanding of the interface is important in heterogeneously structured materials. Research emphasis is on the intrinsic properties, time-dependent microstructural evolution, as well as nanomechanical and chemical interactions at the interface. The incorporation of coating or interphase materials to manipulate interfacial characteristics for optimal collective behavior is also of interest.
Innovative concepts to incorporate additional functionalities in a structural composite material via hierarchical design and materials hybridization are of interest to the program. The functionalities may include, but are not limited to, acoustic, thermal, electrical, and electromagnetic properties. Note the emphasis is on the exploitation of heterogeneity and intrinsic properties of the constituent materials, not on the design of devices.
Research concepts on multiphysics, multiscale computational modeling that aims to understand and predict the behavior of topologically complex materials in harsh environments are sought. Simulations to elucidate of degradation mechanisms under ablative, plasma-present, and oxidative conditions are of particular interest. Experimental validation of the computational results is highly desirable. Advanced characterization techniques capable of isolating and quantifying material response on proper spatial and time scales are also of interest to the program.
You are highly encouraged to contact the Program Officer prior to developing a full proposal to discuss the current state-of-the-art, how your research would advance it, and any submission target dates. To initiate the discussion, submit via email a short research summary that describes the fundamental science to be investigated. Alternatively you may submit a two-page (maximum) pre-proposal that describes research concept, objective and approach, scientific significance, and the expected outcome. A third page containing key references and short budget statement on the approximate cost for a three (3) to five (5) year effort may be included. The focus must be on fundamental science and not on solving an engineering problem. If the concept is considered of interest to the Aerospace Composite Materials program, an invitation to submit a full proposal submission may be extended.
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Contact InformationDr. Ming-Jen PanAFOSR/RTA-1Email: ACMaterials@us.af.mil