The Northern California Section serves ACerS members who reside or work in the following counties of California: Alameda, Amador, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Sacramento, San Benito, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tuolumne, and Yolo.

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Section Officers

Chair:  Scott McCormack

Funding Secretary: Andy Nieto

Recruitment Secretary: Adrian Radocea

Events Secretary: Samuel Zhu

Treasurer: Jenny Beach

If you would like to contact any of the Northern California Section officers, visit the ACerS online membership directory for contact details. You must be a member to access the directory. Or contact Karen McCurdy at for assistance.

Meetings and Activities

ACerS President Dr. Dana Goski to pay a virtual visit to the Northern California section and UC Davis MSE Department

The Northern California Section of ACerS will welcome ACerS President Dr. Dana Goski for two virtual events on February 23.

Section members are invited to a meet and greet discussion from 10:30 a.m. - 11 a.m. (PST). This is an opportunity for your thoughts, questions and ideas to be heard by the ACerS president. Join the meeting at this Zoom link, password: thermofun.

The discussion will be followed by Dr. Goski's presentation, "Beyond Special Dirt" from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. (PST).
Dr. Goski will share highlights and news of The American Ceramic Society, where the mission is to advance the study, understanding, and use of ceramics and related materials, for the benefit of our members and society.
This will be followed by a personal perspective on the world of commercial refractories development: challenges, innovation and visioneering of these industrial materials. The refractories industry plays a critical role in the economic success of many high temperature operations, and an even more critical role in future industries. It is a hidden industry in the materials world. What holds them back? Are there opportunities for technical advancements? And where can refractories take us?

Participate virtually at this Zoom link, passcode: 491303. Contact Scott McCormack for more information.

ACerS Northern California pilots Young Professional Series

The Northern California Section of ACerS is starting a new weekly Young Professionals Seminar series. The series has been designed to showcase the work of academic and industrial young professionals to the Northern California community.

Presentations are virtual with 20 minutes of content and 10 minutes of questions and answers. No registration is required. Join the presentations via this Zoom link, Meeting ID: 992 4523 3313, Passcode: 802011.

Contact Scott McCormack for more information.

Schedule of Presentations:

Friday, February 12, 2021, 4:30- 5 p.m. (PST)
"Vacancies in zirconium carbide", Dr. Theresa Davey, Tohoku University
Friday, February 19, 2021, 9- 9:30 a.m. (PST)
"Oxidation of BN coatings in SiC/SiC mini-composites at intermediate temperatures",  Victoria Christensen, UC Santa Barbara
Friday, February 26, 2021, 9- 9:30 a.m. (PST)
"Synthesis of SiOC foams via polymer templating of preceramic polymers", Christopher Kassner, University of Virginia
Friday, March 5, 2021, 9- 9:30 a.m. (PST)
"Young Professional Series: Ceramic matrix composite edition", Dr. Ashley Hilmas, Air Force Research Laboratory
Friday, March 12, 2021, 9- 9:30 a.m. (PST)
"Designing high entropy UHTCs for extreme environments", Dr. Lavina Backman, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Ceramic matrix composite edition

Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) are being used for high temperature applications, specifically in aerospace due to their high temperature capabilities. CMCs are ceramic materials that exhibit higher toughness when compared to monolithic ceramic materials due to the addition of reinforcements usually in the form of fibers. It has been shown that using SiC/SiC composite parts that have a lower density than their super-alloy counterparts, results in a 50% weight reduction in the turbine engine component weight. The use of x-ray micro-computed tomography to observe damage in various types of CMCs has proven to be a valuable non-destructive technique to study these ceramic materials. Micro-CT provides an abundance of data that can result in a wealth of knowledge but it also requires a lot of time and energy to be able to quantify data from such large datasets. Current work focuses on combining image processing and machine learning better utilize and understand these large datasets.

Ashley Hilmas has been a member of the American Ceramic Society since 2011. She received a bachelor’s degree in ceramic engineering from Missouri S&T in 2015 and holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Ashley is now a materials engineer in the composite performance branch at the Air Force Research Lab in Dayton, Ohio.
Ashley has served as the treasurer and president of Materials Advantage. She was the finance chair and chair of the ACerS President’s Council of Student Advisors (PCSA). She currently is co-chair of the Education and Professional Development Council (EPDC).

Synthesis of SiOC foams via polymer templating of preceramic polymers

Novel high temperature processing approaches are needed to continue to explore the material space for potential future aerospace components. Submicron pore diameter SiC foams have been synthesized using spherical polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) templating of β-SiC nanoparticle loaded preceramic polycarbosilane (PCS) polymer. Differential scanning calorimetry and thermogravimetric analysis were used to characterize the PCS cure, pyrolysis, and partial crystallization process and PMMA, β-SiC nanoparticle, and PCS interactions. The compressive elastic moduli and strengths of the samples were measured as a function of the maximum processing temperature. Compressive strengths and Young’s Modulus values exceeding 100MPa and 15GPa, respectively, were observed at a density of approximately 1,100kg/m3 at an optimum processing temperature of 1300°C. The compressive strength and Young’s Modulus increased with processing temperature up until 1300˚C, where upon further increased temperature led to a rapid fall in both values due to the degradation of the SiC structure. It is shown in the presented work that excess free carbon and SiO2 introduced by PMMA and, β-SiC nanoparticle is detrimental to the mechanical properties at processing temperatures exceeding 1300°C.

Christopher Kassner is a PhD Candidate at the University of Virginia working under the advisement of Dr. Haydn Wadley on novel processing approaches for high temperature materials. He received his BS in Physics from Rowan University in 2014 and his MMSE from the University of Virginia in 2017. His interests and expertise range from preceramic polymer methods for creating porous ceramics to vapor processing methods to create high temperature films. Having a unique PhD, Christopher was able to develop a novel processing route to fabricate porous SiOC as well as adapt a vapor deposition technique for creating compositionally complex film libraries. Outside of his experimental work, Christopher is involved with many professional societies and is passionate about outreach programs.


Oxidation of BN Coatings in SiC/SiC Minicomposites at Intermediate Temperatures

Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) based on BN-coated SiC fibers and SiC matrices have emerged as a promising material for hot section components in gas turbine engines. Before CMCs can be adopted, however, current deficiencies in life-prediction capabilities will need to be addressed. One particular challenge is that, unlike metal alloys, CMCs often exhibit severe degradation at intermediate temperatures (600°C-1000°C), rather than at peak service temperatures (1200°C-1400°C), through mechanisms that remain poorly understood. To address this challenge, oxidation experiments were performed on SiC/BN/SiC minicomposites in dry air at 1000⁰C. Transverse and longitudinal sections were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with x-ray dispersive spectroscopy mapping (EDS). Such tests provide a means for elucidating the role of the BN in oxidation processes involving thin and thick BN coatings.

Victoria is a 3rd year PhD candidate at UC Santa Barbara. She works in Professor Frank Zok’s research group and studies oxidation of ceramic matrix composites. Victoria met Scotty through the American Ceramic Society President’s Council of Student Advisors and was council chair last year. She loves meeting new people and sharing her research! In her free time, she loves to go wine tasting in beautiful Santa Ynez Valley.



Vacancies in zirconium carbide

Zirconium carbide is an ultra-high temperature ceramic with a melting point of 3700 K, which makes it extremely useful in the aerospace and nuclear industries due to its strength at extremely high temperatures. It is stable across a wide range of stoichiometry, facilitated by significant numbers of carbon vacancies, and many of its thermodynamic and mechanical properties are strongly affected by composition, making it an ideal candidate for creating tunable ceramics for a given application.

However, the properties are determined not only by the number of vacancies, but also by their arrangement. Theoretical investigations predict a strong tendency towards vacancy ordering at low temperature, including self-assembly of vacancies into characteristic structures. Such vacancy ordering has been intermittently experimentally observed, but fabrication of ordered zirconium carbides remains a significant challenge.
This presentation will review the nature of vacancy ordering in zirconium carbide and discuss possible explanations for the challenges in fabrication of ordered phases.
Theresa (Tessa) Davey is an assistant professor at the Fracture and Reliability Research Institute at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. She received her PhD from Imperial College London with a thesis on thermodynamic assessments of zirconium and hafnium carbides and borides, informed by first-principles calculations of defect formation energies. Since then, she has been developing improved methods for first-principles informed CALPHAD phase diagrams, most notably by improving the modelling of magnetic properties, point defects and defect interactions, and long- and short-range atomic ordering. She has also been developing a methodology to most efficiently investigate phase diagrams by using sequential learning to guide experimental parameters. She is passionate about equality and is involved with diversity and inclusion efforts in several professional societies.

Glass and Ceramics Arts Webinar hosted by Northern California Section

On December 8, ACerS Northern California Section continued to offer relevant programming with an interactive online showcase featuring Therese Lahaie, David Head and Smith Levi who shared their stories of art, glass and ceramics. The webinar can be viewed at this link.  

Therese Lahaie


Therese Lahaie

As an artist, Therese has used light and technology to reveal the nature of glass as a medium for expressing solace as well as danger. Her glass research spans from the micro view, making photogram studies of life inside the bubbles, to the macro view, projecting video through architectural glass. She uses use glass as a reflective and refractive canvas with techniques of projecting, slumping, scouring, painting, polishing, printing, breaking, and motorizing it. Almost ten years ago, she returned from a trip to Dia Beacon, NY energized by the unexpected impact of scale in the minimalist sculpture installed there, and was driven to infuse her work with similar qualities. Ever since, she has been expanding her use of LED technology to construct light environments.

Therese Lahaie has sculptural work in the permanent collections of the Crocker Art Museum, California, Corning Museum of Glass Contemporary Collection, New York, the DiRosa Collection, California, and the Glassmuseet Ebeltoft, Denmark. She has been an artist in residence at the Kala Art Institute in California and had three honorary fellowships at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program in California.

Lahaie has a degree in glass sculpture from Massachusetts College of Art  and a B.A. in Fine Art from Emmanuel College in Boston, MA. She is the 2015 award winner of the LuciteLux Just Imagine award for her public art project Crossing Signal Mosaic in Emeryville, CA.

She lives and works at the 45th Artist Cooperative  in Emeryville, CA, where she is working on getting solar panels installed on the cooperatives live/work buildings.

David Head

David Head is a Certified Principal Engineer supporting optical hardware for flight and space applications at Lockheed Martin. He has over 30 years experience in a career which has spanned lasers, biomedical devices, injection molding, lenses and astronomical telescopes. Dave has over twenty patents and numerous publications.

Dave's time spent working with lasers gave him an appreciation for dielectric mirrors which he now incorporates into his sculptures. Work and training exposed him to tools and techniques for machining which he has evolved by building a small home shop. The combination of coated optics, metal working skills and a love of mobiles has fueled his artistic endeavors to create robust and beautiful kinetic works that are truly unique.

The discussion will briefly cover the optics of multilayer dielectric mirrors and how they are incorporated into kinetic sculptures. Dave will also show a novel design for a jeweled bearing used in one of his sculptures. Dave will show a number of sculptures that have been on display or presented in galleries. One of his works was on display in the skylight at the Nashville International Airport concourse.

David Head
Smith Levi

Smith Levi

Smith Levi Is a designer and metal fabricator currently working as lead shop technician for Glassybaby in Seattle, WA. Levi was immersed in the glass community from a young age as the child of glass artist, David Levi.

In 2012, Levi started working with metal building bicycle frames under the brand name RatKing Frames. Their interest in mechanical systems and fabrication has expanded into work in the hot shop.

In the past year, Levi has reimagined what glassblowing can be in the age of the Coronavirus by engineering pneumatic systems that remove the need for glassblowers to put their lips on a pipe. These pneumatic systems have been implemented as standard operating procedure for the Glassybaby factories and have afforded safe operation since their return to work in May 2020.

ACerS Webinar produced by the Northern California Section 

"Bay Area Materials Science Start Ups Showcase"

On October 9, 2020, the Northern California Section of ACerS once again offered relevant programming with an interactive online showcase of start up companies actively using materials science to build innovative products. Three Bay Area (Silicon Valley) start up companies shared their stories of launching new companies and developing products. A link to the recording of the presentation can be found here.

Tandem PV
Chris Eberspacher, Co-founder and Managing Director
Solar is the future of electricity. Consumers – residential, commercial and industrial – want cheap, reliable, preferably clean electrical power; and in many cases solar photovoltaics (PV) is the lowest-cost, most easily installed option. But traditional PV technology is approaching its efficiency limits, and traditional PV manufacturing is capital intensive. A new class of materials – metal-halide perovskites – provides a pathway to higher sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiencies and lower scaling costs. Tandem PV is developing perovskite PV technology that can operate in tandem with traditional silicon PV to provide higher efficiencies, lower electricity costs and lower capacity scaling costs by leveraging rather than competing with the existing Si PV infrastructure.

Imprint Energy
Christine Ho, Co-founder and CEO
Printed, solid-state batteries are here now, making them the perfect fit for an expanding range of high-volume, ‘next-generation’ Internet of Things devices and applications. Thinness, flexibility, safety, disposability and customizability give product designers new freedom. This talk will showcase both the technology and cool applications like logistics smart tags and medical patches.

Bagaveev Corporation
Nadir Bagaveyev, CEO and Chief Designer
Bagaveev Corporation is focused on the colonization of Earth's orbit with large habitats and scientific and commercial stations. The firm is currently working on designing and building a reusable single stage to orbit rocket. Bagaveev Corporation is studying into ceramics research as a way to create an ultralight reusable heat shield for orbital re-entry and is seeking partners in industry, government and academia to expedite R&D in high temperature materials, 3D printable and sprayable ceramics, transpiration and film cooling of ceramic surfaces.

Frontiers of Ceramics for Next Generation Lithium Batteries Webinar

Sponsored by MSE Supplies, LLC

The Northern California Section of ACerS held its inaugural event on July 14. Over 100 participants listened to three of the leaders in the lithium battery field present key information about the next generation lithium batteries. Topics discussed included advances in engineered cathode, anode and solid electrolyte materials for both lithium ion batteries and solid-state lithium batteries.

The webinar has been posted at this link.


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The Northern California Section would like to thank the sponsor of this webinar, MSE Supplies LLC.