Reza Mirzaeifar, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, has been awarded an early-career award from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research for his work developing ultra-high strength super-elastic transforming metal matrix-graphene composites.
Mirzaeifar is using graphene to make metals stronger by incorporating layers of the material in metal to drastically increase the composites' overall strength. The graphene particles help prevent metal failure by acting as blocks and preventing the organized, stacked layers of atoms from sliding and dislocating. Based on early research, Mirzaeifar thinks an increase of material strength of 20 to 30 percent is conservative, creating a wide variety of opportunities for increasing efficiencies through the use of stronger, lighter metals.
Three Virginia Tech faculty members were among the 45 to receive the three-year awards in 2017. Joining Mirzaeifar are Rayne Zheng, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Wei Zhou, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.
The Air Force's Young Investigator Research Program annually awards funding to U.S. scientists and engineers who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research. Zheng will develop functional lightweight materials that are ultralight and strong and able to survive in harsh environments.
Mirzaeifar earned his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2013.
Written by Rosaire Bushey