Roy W. Rice, 1934-2011Published on May 4th, 2011 | Edited by: Peter Wray
Roy Warren Rice, 76, died April 29, 2011. He was a long-time resident of Alexandria, Va.
Rice was active in ceramic research and development often exploring
new areas; he was never one to shy away from unexplored areas. In his
early studies at Boeing, he and V. Edlin showed that fine pure magnesium
oxide powders could be hot-pressed to full density and transparency
(quite a feat in those days), and that small lithium fluoride additions
greatly enhanced densification of many oxide ceramics. In those early
days, he also explored hot working of ceramics as a method for forming
more complex shapes.
In the late 1960s, Rice was recruited to initiate a new ceramics
program at the Naval Research Laboratory, where he pushed into new
research areas with gusto and a unique sense of curiosity. He became
recognized for his work on fractography, as well as fracture, and
provided many new insights into the role of microstructure and
processing on the fracture and mechanical reliability of ceramics. Rice
demonstrated that the grinding direction had a major impact on the
tensile and flexure strength of ceramics and other brittle materials as
result of the alignment of surface damage and grinding grooves.
Rice actively participated in the initiation of a Navy program on
silicon nitride ceramics for engine applications, to which he and his
research group at NRL made a number of contributions. His group also
did extensive research on piezoelectrics as well as radome and irdome
materials. Later interest in the development of fiber-reinforced
ceramic composites gained Rice’s attention, particularly regarding
issues with developing suitable fiber coatings, when he made a
substantial contribution through his development of boron nitride
Later Rice’s curiosity turned to address the complex problem of the
effects of pore content and shape on ceramic properties, where the
models typically used covered only a limited range of pore content. He
demonstrated that the “maximum solid area” methods provided greater
versatility in modeling porosity effects on ceramic properties.
Before retiring in 1994, Rice worked as Director of Materials Research of W.R. Grace & Co.
During his career, Rice published more than 300 technical papers
including three books and was granted 30 patents. He was an American
Ceramic Society Fellow and served ACerS in many capacities. Besides
holding all the offices of the Society’s Basic Science Division, he
served as ACerS Vice-President in 1978 and as was an associate editor of
the Journal of the American Ceramic Society for many years. He
was also an ASM Fellow. In 2006, Rice was presented with the American
Ceramics Society’s John Jeppson award in recognition of his many
contributions to ceramics science and technology.
See also photo slide show of Rice’s life here.
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