C. Fred Higgs, III-Mechanical Engineering - Carnegie Mellon University

C. Fred Higgs, III

Professor, Mechanical Engineering

5000 Forbes Avenue
Scaife Hall 306
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: 412-268-2486
Fax: 412-268-3348


Professor Higgs conducts particulate flow modeling and experimental research that utilizes the basic principles of tribology, fluid and rheological mechanics. His Particulate Flow & Tribology Laboratory studies three different flows found in sliding contact interfaces:

  • Slurry flows
  • Powder flows
  • Granular flows

These three dynamic flows involve nanometer, micrometer, and millimeter size particles flowing in a fluid medium. In the field known as Tribology- the study of friction, lubrication, and wear- these flows have each been studied for their ability to act as lubricants between mating surfaces, or as “reverse-lubricants”, as is the case with slurries in integrated circuit (IC) manufacturing.

One of the projects Professor Higgs is working on uses slurry flows with nanometer size particles to manufacture magnetic hard disk surfaces to near atomically-smooth levels for the purpose of developing extremely high capacity information storage systems. To achieve this, his team employs chemical mechanical polishing (CMP), a semiconductor manufacturing process used to engineer the surface to nanoscale roughness. Pursuant to the international semiconductor roadmap, his group is also working to achieve uniform material removal of copper, barrier, and dielectric layers on semiconductor wafers during CMP. In studying powder flows, the group is researching and developing high-speed, oil-free, rotating mechanical systems that will use powder as lubricants. In granular flows, nearly-elastic particles are set in colliding motion to accommodate the relative velocity between two sliding surfaces. Developing and modeling granular lubrication flow experiments would significantly advance particle flow research being conducted in the biomedical, agricultural, and geological science communities. Overall, the Particulate Flow & Tribology Laboratory will research and develop innovative mechanical and electrical technologies that are processed or protected by particulate flows.

Recently, he became a professor in the Sloan Ph.D. Program, which seeks to increase the number of minorities that earn doctorates in engineering and science. He also joined the Institute for Complex Engineering Systems at Carnegie Mellon.


B.S. 1995, Tennessee State University

M.S. 1997, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Ph.D. 2001, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Post-Doctorate, Georgia Institute of Technology.

Selected Publications

Last 10 (Updated April 9, 2010)
  • McCarthy, J.J., Jasti, V., Marinack, M., Higgs, C.F., "Quantitative Validation of the Discrete Element Method using an Annular Shear Cell", Powder Technology, Accepted for Publication, 2010. (Invited paper)
  • Jhurani, S. and Higgs, C. F., "An Elastohydrodynamic Lubrication (EHL) Model of Wear Particle Migration in an Artificial Hip Joint", Tribology International, DOI: 10.1016/j.triboint.2009.12.069, 2010.
  • Comes, R., Terrell, E., and Higgs, C.F., "Pad Deflection-Based Model of Chemical Mechanical Polishing for Use in CAD IC Layout", IEEE Transactions of Semiconductor Manufacturing, 23, 1, 2010.
  • Jasti, V. and Higgs III, C.F., "Cellular Automata Modeling of Granular Flows in a Rough Annular Shear Cell", Granular Matter, DOI: 10.1007/s10035-009-0159-x, 2009.
  • Terrell, E., Comes, R., and Higgs III, C.F., "Analysis of Feature-Scale Wear in Chemical Mechanical Polishing: Modeling and Experiments", Tribology Letters, DOI: 10.1007/s11249-009-9524-5, 2009.
  • Beschorner, K., Lovell, M., Higgs, C. F., Redfern, M., "Modeling Mixed-Lubrication of a Shoe-Floor Interface Applied to a Pin-on-Disk Apparatus", Tribology Transactions, 52, 4, 2009.
  • Terrell, E. Kabir, A., and Higgs III, C.F., "Contact Stress Analysis for Lightly Compressed Thin Films: Modeling and Experiments", J. of Applied Physics, 105, 12, 2009.
  • Beschorner, K., Higgs, C.F., and Lovell, M., "Solution of Reynolds Equation in Polar Coordinates Applicable to non-Symmetric Entrainment Velocities", ASME J. of Tribology, 131, 2009.
  • Terrell, E. and Higgs III, C.F., "A Particle-Augmented Mixed Lubrication Modeling Approach to Predicting Chemical Mechanical Polishing", ASME Journal of Tribology, Vol. 131, 1, 2009.
  • Jasti, V. and Higgs III, C.F., "An Experimental Study of Granular Flows in a Rough Annular Shear", Physical Review E, Vol. 78, 4, 2008.

Selected Awards & Honors

  • Clarence H. Adamson Career Faculty Fellow in Mechanical Engineering (2010-now)
  • ASME Journal of Tribology- Associate Editor (AE) (2009-now)
  • STLE Tribology Transactions Journal- Associate Editor (AE) (2006-now)
  • Fellow of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) - Institute for Advanced Energy Studies (2008 - now)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF), CAREER award (2007-2012)
  • Named Donald L. and Rhonda Struminger Fellow (2007-2008)
  • Awarded (with Prof. LeDuc) a Sloan PhD Program by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support, mentor & graduate top minority PhD students in engineering (2004 - now)
  • General Electric (GE) "Faculty of the Future" Coupon Award (2003)
  • NASA Graduate Student Research Program (GSRP) Ph.D. Fellowship (1998 - 2001)
  • GE Faculty of the Future Fellowship (1997 - 2001)
  • GEM Ph.D. Fellowship (1997 - 2001)

Scientific & Professional Societies

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Society of Tribology and Lubrication Engineers (STLE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the Materials Research Society (MRS), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)