Emilie Rusch

Designing extra-tough nanocomposite materials for protective coatings, armor

Garritt Tucker, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is collaborating with the University of Nevada Reno on the $600,000 Army Research Office project.
Garritt Tucker headshot

A Colorado School of Mines professor has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Army Research Office for work designing a new class of multi-layered nanocomposites that exhibit unprecedented mechanical strength and toughness.

Garritt Tucker, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is collaborating with Sid Pathak of the University of Nevada Reno on the project, through an integrated computational and experimental research partnership. Tucker will use atomistic computational modeling and simulations to inform innovative processing and mechanical testing techniques to develop the new “metal-MAX” multilayered materials.

“Developing advanced materials with improved strength and toughness are of broad interest to the Army and DoD,” Tucker said. “Nanocomposites can offer unprecedented properties, beyond those that are traditionally exhibited by materials currently employed, or by the individual constituents. This project will offer a first step toward predictable design of nanostructured materials by controlling the activation of fundamental deformation mechanisms.”

Properties of nanocomposites include improved strength, ductility and toughness, all of which make the multilayered materials attractive in a wide range of temperatures, mechanical loadings and environmental conditions. As the name suggests, multilayered nanocomposite materials are layered on the nanoscale -- one nanometer being one-billionth of a meter.

Tucker and Pathak’s proposed nanocomposite will be composed of alternating metallic and MAX phase layers with a lamellar thickness reduced to the nanoscale. 

“Potential uses can be protective coatings for structural applications and maybe even armor,” Tucker said.

Emilie Rusch

Emilie Rusch

Director of Communications
About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.