Published on November 19th, 2013 | Edited By: Eileen De Guire
Engineering researchers at England’s University of Cambridge have studied the fluid dynamics of the steam teakettle and revealed a two-mechanism process of sound production. This breakthrough in breakfast musings can also be applied to wayward whistles, such as annoying plumbing pipe noises. (Credit: AIP Publishing.)
I still remember all the words of the song Mrs. Balzer taught my kindergarten class more than a few decades ago:
I’m a little teapot, short and stout
Here is my handle, here is my spout.
When I get all steamed up, then I shout!
Just tip me over, and pour me out.
I remember the motions, too. It was really quite charming to watch 40 five-year-olds perform the song. (For the record, I have never been short or stout. I have been known to get steamed up and shout. But that was a long time ago!)
An undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, UK, Ross Henrywood, took on the challenge of figuring out how the teakettle whistles for his fourth-year research project.
Working with UC aeroacoustics lecturer, Anurag Agarwal, Henrywood started with a literature survey and determined that the fluid dynamics mechanisms behind the whistle tone have proved elusive for more than a century. In fluid-dynamics-speak, the whistling sound is a “hole tone,” and the whistle is the kettle’s “two axially aligned orifice plates separated by a short distance at the end of the spout,” according to the paper on the research.
Few would argue to eliminate the teakettle’s comforting beckoning whistle; however, other sounds created by similar structures are unwelcome or annoying. Henrywood says in a university news story, “Pipes inside a building are one classic example, and similar effects are seen inside damaged vehicle exhaust systems. Once we know where the whistle is coming from, and what’s making it happen, we can potentially get rid of it.”
Using a series of idealized spouts, Henrywood and Agarwal determined for the first time that two fluid dynamics mechanisms produce the characteristic sound. The first regime, which occurs as steam first starts to form, is characterized by Reynolds numbers, Re, less that 2,000. In this regime, Henrywod says in the news release, “below a particular flow rate the whistle behaved like a Helmholtz resonator—the same mechanism which gives you a tone when you blow over an empty bottle.” Basically, the air inside the spout bounces around and makes a single-frequency tone.
As the steam builds and Re exceeds 2,000, the sound-generating mechanism is similar to the way sound is made in an organ tube or a flute. The news story describes the mechanism thus:
“As steam comes up the kettle’s spout, it meets a hole at the start of the whistle, which is much narrower than the spout itself. This contracts the flow of steam as it enters the whistle and creates a jet of steam passing through it. The steam jet is naturally unstable, like the jet of water from a garden hose that starts to break into droplets after it has travelled a certain distance. As a result, by the time it reaches the end of the whistle, the jet of steam is no longer a pure column, but slightly disturbed.
“These instabilities cannot escape perfectly from the whistle and as they hit the second whistle wall, they form a small pressure pulse. This pulse causes the steam to form vortices as it exits the whistle. These vortices produce sound waves, creating the comforting noise that heralds a forthcoming cup of tea.”
Armed with an understanding of the mechanisms behind the phenomenon, Henrywood and Agarwal are looking at practical (and welcome) applications for reducing noise in jet stream environments. For example, they are working on reducing the noise produced by high-speed hand dryers.
I’m all for anything that makes it easier to hear whilst the teakettle shouts for me!
Published on November 19th, 2013 | Edited By: Eileen De Guire
A representative “puncture” caused by dielectric breakdown of the alumina. A surface pit formed by grain pull-out is circled red, although there are clearly many. (Credit: Shetty, et al; Wiley.)
If you expect something to break, there are two things you want to know—when and how bad. Anyone who has broken a bone, for example, knows there is a big difference between a stress fracture and a compound fracture. Curious minds, however, also want to know why. The idea is to anticipate and control failure.
These motivations lie at the heart of testing. In its essence, testing comes down to isolating variables or effects and accurately interpreting the results. A new paper in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society appears at first glance to offer a new way of evaluating dielectric properties of alumina, but there is more to this story.
A key challenge to measuring dielectric strength is that external factors, such as specimen configuration and variations in such microstructural features as grain size and porosity, can exert more influence than the intrinsic properties. Standardized tests for measuring dielectric strength do not account for variations in field intensity with extrinsic factors. For example, when dielectric strength is measured with flat electrodes against a flat sample as specified by ASTM standard D149-97a, the electric field is most intense at the edges.
Shetty’s team looked at a variety of extrinsic factors and their influence on dielectric strength. Extrinsic factors included electrode geometry and size, dielectric constant of the dielectric oil, and specimen thickness. To evaluate their results, the group took advantage of Shetty’s expertise with finite element analysis and weakest link theory—tools that are typically associated with mechanical property analysis.
These tools allowed the team to investigate the effects of electric field variations. “We were the first to do a careful analysis of electric field distribution and use local electric field to describe dielectric breakdown,” Shetty said in a phone interview regarding applying finite element analysis to electrical fields. The image above shows the finite mesh used to calculate electric fields in polycrystalline alumina (green) with spherical electrodes (white) and a dielectric liquid (blue). The liquid, an oil, prevents arcing and forces the system to find its breakdown pathway in the ceramic (Credit: Shetty, et al, Wiley.)
Using a ball-and-ring electrode configuration, the researchers noticed that the breakdown field scales with electrode size and is higher when the electrical field is localized, for example, in thin samples tested with small ball electrodes. This trend was familiar to Shetty. “This scaling effect of the electrically stressed ceramic surface area or volume suggested that dielectric breakdown of alumina might be exhibiting the characteristics of a weakest-link failure phenomenon analogous to brittle fracture,” he writes in the paper, which also explains that “weakest-link failure” is the “theory of extreme values,” and describes the “mathematical relationship between a population distribution and the distribution of the lowest values” in a sampling of the population.
The team considered two defect distribution paradigms to describe the FEA results—the familiar Weibull distribution and the Laplace distribution. The Laplace distribution fit the data closely; the Weibull distribution did not. This was an important discovery, because the Laplace distribution describes surface defect distributions, not bulk defect distributions. Initially, Shetty said he expected that the weakest-link flaws would be in the bulk, but the FEA and its fit with the Laplace distribution showed that the fatal flaws were on the surface. In fact, flaws more than 100 µm below the surface do not matter.
Realizing the importance of surface defects, the team also noticed pits on the surface of their alumina samples that were about the same size as the grains. Suspecting grain pull-out during finishing, they carefully repolished the samples to minimize grain pull-out and measured again. Tests confirmed that dielectric strength correlates directly with surface pit density—that is, the samples with better surface finishes had higher dielectric strengths.
Shetty thinks this approach to measuring dielectric strength would work for other materials, too. It is interesting to note that an electrical measurement provided information about processing effects, which could have quality control applications.
Published on November 19th, 2013 | Edited By: P. Carlo Ratto
Ardagh Group SA is closer to acquiring Verallia North America for an estimated $1.7 billion after striking a possible deal with the US Federal Trade Commission. Ardagh offered to sell four of the newly acquired glass plants in an effort to FTC’s competitive concerns. It now expects to finalize the acquisition by mid-January.
Venture capital firm Equistone Partners Europe Ltd has sold its stake in Yorkshire, UK, container manufacturer Allied Glass Containers Ltd. The deal with CBPE Capital is believed to be worth £120 million to £130 million.
(Glass on Web) Kapiri Glass Factory of Zambia is set to reopen operations in July 2014. The company has received backing from a new local investor, Chimsoro Milling Co. Ltd.
(Glass in China)PPG Flat Glass says it will increase prices up to 12% on some of its primary glass products. The company attributes the increase to “material, operating and distribution costs despite continuing implementation of productivity improvements and cost mitigation efforts.”
Vienna, Austria-based global refractories supplier RHI AG says its third-quarter revenue fell to €427.4 million, down 4% from the previous quarter. Revenue in the Steel division declined by 3.6% due to weaker than expected business conditions in Europe. The company reports revenue for its Industrial division declined 4.7% due to technical problems in its newly constructed fusion plant in Norway.
Brazilian magnesia, graphite, and refractories producer Magnesita Refratarios says its third-quarter results fell short of expectations due mainly to sinter production problems at its Brumado and Contagem sites. The company’s plant in Chizhou, China, also underwent a scheduled shutdown for maintenance of its tunnel kiln
An international research team has engineered a potentially important new class of nanostructured materials for microwave and advanced communication devices. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the multilayer crystal materials are so-called “tunable dielectrics”—materials that have proved difficult to make for the frequency range used by cell phones and other modern communications. Consisting of layers of strontium oxide and strontium titanate, the new materials (shown in the transmission electron micrograph above; credit: D. Mueller and N. Orloff/NIST) are said to consume less power than previous generations of tunable dielectric and work well at frequencies to 100 GHz.
Using the European Synchrotron (ESRF) X-ray source, scientists have shown that electrons absorbed and released by cerium dioxide nanoparticles during chemical reactions behave in a completely different way than previously thought. According to researchers from ESRF and Universitá Autònoma of Barcelona, Catalan Institute of Nanotechnologies, the electrons are not bound to individual atoms but distributed like a cloud over the entire nanoparticle. The scientists call this spatial distribution an “electron sponge.” They are already working to assess whether the non-localized electrons are unique to CeO2 or also can be produced using other common nanoparticles such as titanium dioxide.
Common clay, a seemingly infertile blend of minerals, might have been the birthplace of life on Earth, according to scientists at Cornell University. The researchers discovered that clay mixed with simulated ancient seawater produced a hydrogel that confined biomolecules and biochemical reactions. Over millions of years, the confined chemicals could have undergone the complex reactions that formed proteins, DNA, and, eventually, all the chemicals needed to make living cells work. The scientists also demonstrated protein synthesis in a synthetic clay hydrogel.
Researchers at Washington State University say they have achieved a 400-fold increase in the electrical conductivity of a strontium titanate crystal simply by exposing it to light. They say the effect, which lasted for days, could dramatically improve the performance of future electronic devices. Scientists chanced upon the discovery when they noticed a sample of strontium titanate became conductive after it was left out in the lab one day. The room-temperature persistent photoconductivity phenomenon could one day lead to large increases in information storage capacity via holographic memory, scientists say.
Federal-Mogul Corp.’s Powertrain Segment has developed an automated casting process it says will produce stronger, more wear-resistant piston rings for automotive engines. The process uses a vertical molding technique to provide higher quality and improved process control. The company says thinner piston rings that fit more tightly in cylinders are vital to continued vehicle emissions reductions, but this required a stronger ring material. Federal Mogul’s automated vertical casting process lets engineers optimize design of blanks and gating systems, improving material flow control during casting and producing grey cast iron rings with better structural uniformity than the previous horizontal casting process.
Published on November 15th, 2013 | Edited By: Jim Destefani
Student presentations of their research in basic science and electronic ceramics are always one of the highlights of EMA. Photo from 2013 meeting. Both photos credit: ACerS.
ACerS has a busy 2014 meetings schedule, kicking off Jan 22–24 with Electronic Materials and Applications 2014 in Orlando, Fla. Attendance for the event grew significantly in 2013, and nearly 300 scientists and engineers are expected to attend this year’s edition.
Jointly organized by the Society’s Electronics and Basic Science divisions, the upcoming conference features new programming covering commercialization of electroceramics and computational design of electronic materials. Also new is a tutorial recognizing the importance of interfaces in electroceramic materials.
A session entitled “Functional and Multifunctional Electroceramics for Commercialization” recognizes that moving an innovation from invention to commercialization can be a challenge. This symposium not only covers advances in functional and multifunctional electroceramics but also their potential commercial opportunities in energy storage, conversion, and harvesting; detectors and sensors; electronics packaging and interconnect applications; and more.
The session entitled “Computational Design of Electronic Materials” recognizes the importance of reducing the cost, risks, and time needed for materials discovery. Computational techniques can do all that, and form the core of the US Materials Genome Initiative. Scientists and engineers from academia, industry, and national laboratories will discuss the current state of and future outlook for computational modeling and informatics for electronic materials, including
Emerging strategies for discovering and designing new electronic materials;
High-throughput data generation and screening via first principles;
Data mining, knowledge discovery, and informatics;
Statistical methods and machine learning for accelerating materials property predictions;
Modeling at different (and across) scales.
Also new is a tutorial on interfaces. Instructors Dominique Chastain and Wayne D. Kaplan will provide an introduction to many of the topics to be discussed in more detail during EMA’s “Structure and Properties of Interfaces in Electronic Materials” conference session.
As always, EMA 2014 will include plenary sessions, poster sessions, highlights of student research in basic science and electronic ceramics, and plenty of networking opportunities. For more information, including the full technical program, visit the EMA 2014 website.
Published on November 15th, 2013 | Edited By: Jim Destefani
Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX (photo above) and Apple’s iPad Air use competing next-generation LCD backplane materials to improve display resolution and battery life. Credit: Amazon.
Last week Eileen reported on the distinct possibility that Apple may be gearing up to increase its use of sapphire for iPhone touchscreens.
The company continues to make materials news, this time with regard to the display technology used in its new iPad Air tablet. As usual, Apple is not talking. But analysts say the display uses backplane electronics based on indium gallium zinc oxide, an alternative to amorphous silicon chips that offers higher resolution with significantly lower power consumption.
According to an article in MIT Technology Review, IGZO is one of two materials technologies competing to replace amorphous silicon for semiconductor applications. The problem facing designers of displays and other components for mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones is one of simple physics: new chip designs are bumping into the upper limits of amorphous silicon’s ability to transport electrons. Both IGZO and another material, low-temperature polycrystalline silicon, have much higher electron mobility than amorphous silicon, according to this article in ExtremeTech. Thus both technologies offer the promise of higher-resolution displays and reduced power consumption versus amorphous silicon.
An Apple news release says only that the iPad Air uses a new chip that allows a more compact battery design. The result is an overall volume reduction of 24% with battery life of up to 10 hr equaling that of the previous-generation device. The iPad Air’s 9.7-inch display clocks in with a resolution of 326 pixels per inch, according to the release.
Teardown experts—Apple’s refusal to divulge information about the electronics and materials technologies used in its devices has spawned an entire reverse engineering industry—say display resolution is 264 ppi. Regardless, the iPad Air display has more than adequate resolution, and efficiency is even better than Apple’s claim, according to DisplayMate Technologies Corp.’s head-to-head comparison of the latest tablets from Apple, Amazon, and Google.
“The most important under the hood display improvement is the switch from [amorphous silicon] LCDs up to a much higher performance IGZO LCD backplane,” the article states. “The switch to IGZO produces an impressive 57% improvement in display power efficiency from previous Retina display iPads—so the iPad Air doesn’t get uncomfortably warm like the earlier iPads.”
The article tests display resolution, brightness, performance under various lighting conditions, and other factors for the iPad Air; the Apple device’s main competitor, Amazon’s newly launched Kindle Fire HDX, which shipped last week; and Google’s Nexus 10. The newest Kindle uses an LTPS display backplane and is said to offer screen resolution of 339 pixels per inch—the highest of any current device. Released about a year ago, the Nexus 10 uses an amorphous silicon display backplane but still manages 300-ppi resolution. The article gives the Fire HDX display an overall grade of “A.” The iPad Air receives an overall “A-,” while the Nexus 10 rates an overall “B” grade.
Makers of mobile devices—and even of LED TVs and computer monitors—clearly will be making use of chips produced using these new backplane materials. What’s less clear is which material may eventually win out, but the bottom line, as usual, may be the bottom line: according to the MIT Technology Review article, IGZO transistor arrays are less expensive to produce than LTPS and the technology lends itself better to production of large displays. The latter material is likely to find more limited application in high-end smartphones and other smaller mobile devices, the article says.
The video in this post is produced by Sharp, one of the main suppliers of IGZO LCD backplane technology, and comes via YouTube.
Published on November 15th, 2013 | Edited By: Eileen De Guire
Bill Dawson, founder and CEO of NexTech, talks about innovation at a networking lunch at ACerS headquarters on Thursday. Credit: ACerS.
Yesterday ACerS welcomed 29 visitors from the Central Ohio region to its Westerville headquarters for a networking lunch and presentation on “Commercializing Technology” by Bill Dawson, founder and CEO of NexTech Materials in Lewis Center, Ohio. Most of the guests work in the industrial ceramics sector for companies like Saint-Gobain Proppants, Zircoa, Allied Minerals, Harrop Industries, and others. A few represented academic institutions such as Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University.
Dawson, who with Scott Swartz founded NexTech in 1994, talked about the importance of innovation at a company like NexTech. The company is still independent and privately owned by the two founders.
From the beginning, NexTech’s vision has been to provide materials solutions for the energy and environmental challenges. One of the first technologies the company addressed was solid oxide fuel cells, but about 13 years ago they realized that significant commercialization of SOFC technology was still a long way off. Dawson noted that, without the support of investors or other external funding sources, they had to come up with products to sell, which led to the evolution of four NexTech brands to serve fuel cell, battery, sensor, and emerging markets.
“It’s hard to invent, but it’s even harder to take products to market,” Dawson says. In this regard, staying focused on what you do best is key. NexTech identifies its core technical competencies as advanced ceramics, electrochemistry, and nanomaterials, and the intersections of these competencies (imagine a Venn diagram) represent product opportunities with identified markets such as sensors, catalysts, electrocatalysts, and SOFCs.
Dawson identified four innovation drivers: large, government-funded projects; product development in collaboration with defined customers; expansion of existing product lines; and cost reduction. Focusing on the second driver—product development—he shared two examples of innovation at NexTech using a typical stage-gate approach to push ideas into the innovation pipeline.
The first example is protective coating for SOFC interconnects. The SOFC market is finally poised for growth in stationary power generation applications at hospitals, grocery stores, office buildings, and data centers. Growth for mobile applications is expected as well.
The design lifespan of an SOFC running at 800˚C is 80,000 hours. For a long time, the tradeoff between cost of interconnect stainless steels and corrosion has been a problem. Chromium can exit cost-effective ferritic stainless steels and poison the lanthanum strontium manganite electrode. NexTech developed a manganese cobalt oxide coating that effectively isolates the steel from the electrode (see our earlier CTT report on successful accelerated testing of the coating). The challenge was how to commercialize the technology. The company wanted to maintain control of the intellectual property, but building plants close to steel suppliers was not feasible. In this case, NexTech chose to license the technology and provide the coating materials, keeping open the option for further innovation and possibly manufacturing.
The other example Dawson described was development of a hydrogen sensor. Originally the technology was developed for the SOFC market, but “the need had passed by the time the technology was successful,” according to Dawson. Searching for other applications, the company worked with Case Western Reserve University to adapt the the now-successful sensor for new applications. NexTech now markets the sensor to monitor nuclear power plants, utility transformers, and lithium-ion batteries. The commercialization model in this case is to manufacture the active ingredients, then assemble and calibrate devices using parts bought from vendors.
Dawson emphasized the importance of working closely with customers, not straying from core technical competencies, and having a disciplined, robust stage-gate process for R&D.
One attendee asked how the company found applications for the hydrogen sensor technology, which had, after all, been developed for an SOFC market that no longer was interested. The company went to a few conferences to discover what sorts of problems were out there for which they already had a solution, which is how the battery alarm system came about. Anyone in a similar situation might consider attending these ACerS conferences in 2014.
Materials challenges and innovations in areas of hydrogen, solar energy, solar power and concentrators, battery and energy storage, nanocomposites and nanowires, nuclear, critical resources, and other energy technologies.
SCI Engineered Materials Inc., a Columbus, Ohio, manufacturer of advanced materials for physical vapor deposition thin-film applications, recently reported financial results for the third quarter (pdf). Total revenue of $1,810,044 was the highest quarterly amount this year, but still less than the $1,982,403 reported in Q3 2012. Gross profit was $416,836 for the third quarter 2013 compared to $562,176 a year ago. Gross profit was 23% of total revenue—the highest of 2013—compared with 28.4% for the third quarter 2012. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization totaled $81,754 for the third quarter 2013 versus $258,257 for the same period in 2012. Quarterly adjusted EBITDA, which excludes non-cash stock based compensation, was $113,110 versus $289,673 a year ago. The company reported a loss of $76,322 for the quarter versus income of $84,711 for the third quarter 2012.
Plibrico Co. LLC, the Chicago, Ill.-based supplier of aluminosilicate and high alumina monolithic refractory products, has added Riendeau Refractaires Inc., Sainte-Julie, Quebec, to its preferred exclusive network of refractory contractors. Riendeau will be Plibrico’s preferred exclusive agent for Quebec. The company provides refractory expertise in a number of industries, including aluminum, cement/lime, petrochemical, ferrosilicon, copper, steel, boilers, and incinerators.
Rockwood Holdings has released third-quarter earnings data, reporting earnings per share of $0.63. The company says it had revenue of $890.1 million for the quarter, an increase of 3.2% over Q3 2012 revenue. The company also declared a $0.45 per share quarterly dividend and announced a new share repurchase program of up to $500 million to be completed over two years. This program is in addition to the $400 million share repurchase program recently completed in the third quarter 2013.
Micromeritics Instrument Corp. has completed the acquisition of PoroTechnology, a Texas-based company that provides rock property data to the US and international oil and gas industry. PoroTechnology will operate as a business unit of Micromeritics and leverage the analytical assets of the latter’s Analytical Services division. The division provides AutoPore mercury injection capillary pressure instruments and laboratory facilities. In addition to providing contract analytical laboratory services, Micromeritics also manufactures, sells, and services analytical lab instrumentation.
(The Hindu Business Line) New Delhi, India, tile manufacturer (and ACerS Corporate Member) Somany Ceramics Ltd. plans to increase tile production by more than 15% through joint ventures and outsourcing to contract manufacturers. The company says it will focus more on value-added products and begin outsourcing “plain vanilla” products to smaller manufacturers. Somany currently can produce 35 million m2 of tile; it would like to increase that to 41 million m2 through the new strategy. Three joint ventures are currently operational, with more possible by the end of the current fiscal year, the company says.
Published on November 12th, 2013 | Edited By: Jim Destefani
NREL researchers are developing window films that can improve building comfort and cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. (Credit: P. Corkery, NREL.)
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, much of the US is in for a long, frigid winter. Especially in the northern tier states, forecasting a cold winter is akin to predicting widespread darkness at night, but a couple of facts remain: 1) It is going to be cold in most of the US, and 2) windows account for up to 50% of a building’s energy loss.
That second tidbit comes via a news release the US Department of Energy, which is also happy to recommend ways to cut down on energy loss from windows. A case in point is research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), where scientists are working to develop an insulating window film that “preserves the view while increasing occupants’ comfort and saving energy,” NREL says in its release. The film incorporates nanometer to micrometer-sized vacuum capsules that can be applied like conventional low-e window tinting films.
“Early estimates indicate that a millimeter-thick layer results in clear insulation with values equivalent to R-20, which is equal to standard wall insulations,” the release says. “By combining vacuum insulation materials and processes with low-e coated plastic films, the new technology will boost the energy efficiency of current window retrofit technologies by as much as 80% at a fraction of the cost. Best of all, building and homeowners will not need to replace their windows.”
According to the release, the window film could reduce building energy use by as much as 33%, resulting in a payback period of less than a year while saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Window films are one thing, and may indeed provide a relatively economical way for homeowners and commercial building owners to cut energy consumption. But how about “smart windows” that can adjust to sunlight intensity (or, in winter, the lack thereof) and other environmental conditions to help maintain a building’s set temperature?
The current technology is based on layered glass composites that control transmittance of solar radiation by thermochromic, photochromic, or electrochromic means. But, according to the article, current smart windows are about twice as expensive per square foot as conventional double-pane windows and only block visible radiation.
Enter Heliotrope Technologies, a startup company working with DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to commercialize a new window coating technology that can switch between three states—the company calls them Bright, Cool, and Dark—to block a wide range of solar radiation, and does so at relatively low cost. The technology recently won an R&D 100 Award.
According to a company news release (pdf), “the smart window technology that Heliotrope is bringing to market leverages a unique electrochromic effect discovered by the inventors to control light and heat transmission independently and dynamically. Heliotrope is commercializing the discovery in the form of a dynamic window coating that will deliver improved energy efficiency at a substantially lower price than smart window products currently on the market.”
The company says windows with its electrochromic coating consume minimal power during switching and “almost none” to maintain either of the two solar blocking states. The company is looking first at flat glass for commercial buildings, but also plans to investigate use of the technology for automotive glass. According to the release, Heliotrope is currently delivering prototypes and, if the technology progresses as planned, will be making small commercial windows by 2016.
Published on November 11th, 2013 | Edited By: Jim Destefani
The finalists in Science magazine’s 2013 “Dance Your PhD” video contest have been announced.
The idea of using interpretive dance as a PhD thesis may seem a bit…out there. But the dance videos are used only for “partial fulfillment” of the candidates’ PhD dissertations. And, there’s cash and prizes, not to mention “immortal geek fame on the Internet,” according to the Sciencenews release, on the line. “The goal is to do away with jargon—indeed, to do away with spoken words altogether—and use human bodies to convey the essence of scientific research,” says the release, which also includes all 12 finalists for the contest’s sixth year.
Most of the 12 videos selected for popular voting are related to the social sciences. There is, however, one finalist related to materials science. It’s not ceramics, but Timothy G. Hunter of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee made the top 12 with a video (screen capture above; credit: T. Hunter/Vimeo) aimed at further developing the Smith-Topper-Watson approach to understanding metal fatigue.
“This approach combines concepts from the stress-life and strain-life models,” Hunter explains in a brief text accompanying the video. “My dissertation recognizes that energy is needed to move grains along grain boundaries, break bonds, and open cracks in material.”
Hunter’s proposed “Energy Life Model” of fatigue “creates a relationship between strain energy and material life to fully capture the mechanism of failure of materials.”
Does the video capture the essence of his research? Judge for yourself, and vote for your favorite if you’re so inclined, here.