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Aug. 9: CMU Researchers Unveil Role of Defects on Material Properties

Contact: Chriss Swaney / 412-268-5776 /

CMU Researchers Unveil Role of Defects on Material Properties

Mohammad IslamPITTSBURGH—A Carnegie Mellon University team, led by Mohammad F. Islam (right), has developed a method for determining how defects change material properties that may give both industry and academia a better understanding of how defects in materials can impact strength, durability and heat transport. Their findings appear in the Aug. 6 issue of Science.
Defects are ubiquitous in materials. They may be unavoidable during material synthesis, and in many cases are deliberately introduced into materials to modify their properties because of their influence in fields as diverse as protein crystallization and architecture.
“We created a defective crystal using squishy polymer particles. The polymer particles are micron-sized — so you can think of them as large atoms. However, unlike atoms, you can see the polymer particles using a simple optical microscope. Since atoms move differently around defects, we look at the motion of particles to determine how defects change material properties,” said Islam, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science and engineering
Islam’s CMU coauthors include: Deniz Kaya, a post doctoral student in materials science and engineering; Nicole Green, a graduate student in chemical engineering; and Craig Maloney, an assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering.