Exciting Student Research

By: Rohit Sarkar, Graduate Student

Nanocrystalline metals and alloys exhibit a plethora of enhanced mechanical properties like increased strength and toughness. As a result they find widespread use in structural and functional applications in industries ranging from aerospace to medicine. Moreover, if the nanostructure of these materials can be precisely tailored, many unique properties like recovery of plastic strain and shape memory behavior can be elicited from them. My research focusses on synthesizing nanostructured intermetallic thin films with precisely engineered microstructures to enhance their mechanical properties.

I make use of the photolithography and deep reactive ion etching tools in the CSSER cleanroom to fabricate a unique MEMS based tensile testing device (Figure 1). This device enables us to test the mechanical behavior of thin films with tailored structures inside transmission electron microscopes (TEM). TEMs give us invaluable insights into the mechanisms that control various deformation process at the nanoscale through high resolution imaging and crystal orientation data. This research work on the synthesis and mechanical behavior of thin films, facilitated by the tools at CSSER, has resulted in multiple publications in journals like Scientific Reports and Ultramicroscopy.

I have been a research assistant working under the guidance of Dr. Jagannathan Rajagopalan since 2012 and I will be defending my Ph.D. thesis at the end of next month. Throughout my time at ASU, I have received help and support from the CSSER staff (Carrie, Jon, Todd, Art, Kevin & Stefan) on numerous occasions, without which none of my research would have been possible. After graduation I want to continue researching the structure-properties relationships in nanomaterials. I am currently looking for post-doctoral opportunities in the field of synthesis and mechanical behavior of thin films.