University of Vermont

College of
Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Frederic Sansoz receives prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Release Date: 02-13-2008

Author: Dawn Marie Densmore
Phone: Array Fax: 802-656-8802

Dr. Frederic

Dr. Frederic Sansoz

Dr. Frederic Sansoz, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science in UVM's College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS), has received a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for $400,000 for his research entitled, "Microstructure and Size Effects on Metal Plasticity at Limited Length Scale." This is one of the most prestigious awards given by the NSF.

"To receive this award and be placed amongst some of the top American researchers in my field is a great honor," says Sansoz. "This is an opportunity to conduct fundamental research in the area of metallic nanomaterials, which can dramatically improve the existing state of knowledge in the experimental and computational mechanics community. I sincerely thank Vermont EPSCoR and my colleagues from the mechanical engineering program, the materials science program, and the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences for their continuous encouragement."

The award will stimulate use of UVM's newly established Vermont Advanced Computing Center, a multi-user facility, and will involve participation of scientists at a new US Department of Energy's (DOE) national research facility. It will give graduate students the opportunity to broadly disseminate results of research at national conferences and meetings to enhance scientific understanding in the field. In addition, the education program of this CAREER award will broadly revitalize interest in materials science and engineering at UVM, help recruit engineering students from underrepresented groups, and improve multicultural training.

"We are extremely proud that Dr. Sansoz has received this prestigious NSF CAREER Award," says CEMS Dean Domenico Grasso.

Nanoscale Research

The nanoscale is unique because it is the size scale where the familiar day-to-day properties of materials like hardness and strength meet the more exotic properties of the atomic and molecular world. For example, nanoscale wires of gold, which is naturally a very soft metal, are ultra-strong materials with strengths up to 100 times that of bulk metals.

The proposed research is to gain fundamental understanding of the size-effects associated with microstructural features and sample dimension on the strength of such metallic "nanowires." To accomplish this, a combined experimental/modeling research approach will be used that harnesses the power of both atomistic simulation and atomic force microscopy. This combination of methodologies is expected to be successful in bridging the gap between experiment and modeling in the mechanical characterization of nanomaterials.

Sansoz's research is expected to show new ways to fabricate nanorods and nanowires with specific defects that make them stronger, thereby providing a roadmap for others to make improved materials. Vermont EPSCoR provided start-up funds and several mini-grants for equipment acquisition for key laboratory instruments, such as high-resolution microscopes specifically designed for nanomechanical analysis. The simulation component of this project will be conducted via massively-parallel molecular dynamics simulations performed using UVM's newly-established Vermont Advanced Computing Center.