College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Intelligent roadmap: Collaborative, cutting-edge methods to create new alloys 

Jun Cui and Duane Johnson standing together and smiling in a lab setting.

Jun Cui and Duane Johnson standing together and smiling in a lab setting.

Anson Marston Distinguished Professor Duane Johnson and professor Jun Cui have been working together for years, collaborating on finding solutions for real-world problems while improving materials and research processes. “We have been working on designing refractory multi-principal element alloys,” Johnson said. “We spent two years working together building an approach to predict the behaviors of these alloys very quantitatively.” 

These alloys developed by Cui and Johnson show enhanced performance at higher temperatures for clean-energy applications. Adding six or seven elements to an alloy and finding the correct combo could take a lifetime, so Johnson has devised an approach that can predict what could actually work on the computer, without having to create each one. He provides a composition of possibilities that Cui then goes into the lab to create. 

“Once Johnson provides the composition of space, my team moves in to experimentally explore possibilities,” Cui said. “And once I have my results, we use those to iterate and get closer to the sample that will work and continue to test.” The pair has a few different patent applications for new alloys in the works, and this is just one of many collaborations between the metals faculty at Iowa State.