Assistant professor in mechanical engineering receives DARPA Award

Gap-Yong Kim, assistant professor in mechanical engineering, recently received the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Gap-Yong KimAward.

The award, established to recognize junior faculty members who show great potential and expose them to the needs of the Department of Defense, will provide $231,912 to fund a two-year project.

The overall goal of Kim’s project will be to advance material processing methods to create composite materials of complex microstructural designs, and eventually be able to control and alter their properties. The project will help engineers better understand strengthening in composites that involves multiscale architectures.

“I want to establish a manufacturing platform that can create multi-level reinforcing structures in a high-strength, lightweight magnesium alloy composite panel,” said Kim, who is also an associate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. “The panels have a great potential for building armors, protective structures, and lightweight, fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Kim’s proposed manufacturing platform will combine several processing steps− ultrasonic spraying will be used to create nano/micro-scale patterns on magnesium sheets, which will then be densified by pressure-assisted, mushy-state sintering.

After manufacturing the composite, the team will perform mechanical testing and compositional analysis to understand the relationship between the composite structure and mechanical properties.

“We will study atomization, transport, and deposition of spray droplets that contain microelements as well as how the deposited structures change into reinforcing architectures within the composite material,” he said.

Kim and his team began the project this summer and hope it will deliver a cost-effective technology that can make high quality composite panels for defense applications.