Dr. Valery Levitas, Iowa State’s Schafer Professor of aerospace engineering and of mechanical engineering, has been named the 2016 recipient of the ISU Award for
Outstanding Achievement in Research. This award recognizes faculty members for outstanding career achievements in research, outstanding national and international recognition in the academic community, and a substantial positive impact of their mentorship and/or teaching on undergraduate students, graduate students and/or postdoctoral associates.
Dr. Levitas developed the first conceptual multiscale approach for high pressure mechanochemistry. This theory predicts new methods of material synthesis (in particular, for superhard materials) and search for new materials. Notably, his team transformed boron nitride from graphite-like to superhard at record low pressure, which may serve as a precursor of new technologies.
He also discovered virtual melting as a new mechanism of crystal-crystal and crystal-amorphous phase transformations and plastic deformation at temperatures hundreds and thousands degrees below the melting temperature. Virtual melting is predicted using a developed, advanced thermodynamic approach and confirmed by large-scale molecular dynamics simulations of shockwave propagation in metals, by experiments on phase transformations in ferroelectric nanofibers, and by phase field simulations for energetic materials.
Currently, Dr. Levitas is working on two long-term projects supported by National Science Foundation and projects from Office of Naval Research, Army Research Office, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.