Center adds new dimension to ASU’s material science research

A new research center, devoted to studying the structure of advanced, high-performance materials in three dimensions was established within the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering earlier this month.

Headed by Nik Chawla, Fulton Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and funded by a collaboration between Arizona State University, Zeiss and the Office of Naval Research, the Center for 4D Materials Science, or 4DMS, provides a unique and ground-breaking dimension to materials research — time.

The foundation of materials science and engineering is the understanding a material’s structure and how that affects properties and performance. 4DMS will build on that foundation by granting researchers the ability to monitor and analyze materials in real-time.

“We typically think of sectioning a material and looking at its structure in two dimensions, which can often lead to limited or erroneous results and interpretations. With the new center, we are looking at a new paradigm in materials science — studying the structure of materials in three and four dimensions,” said Chawla at the outset of a two-day kickoff event for 4DMS.

4DMS will explore material science with multiscale modeling and characterization of materials under different stimuli, such as mechanical, thermal, electrical and more, over time. The Center has brand new, state-of-the art equipment and capabilities, including x-ray microtomography that boast resolution of less than one micrometer and focused ion beam microscopy with resolution at the nanometer scale. In addition, the Center will house a first of its kind lab-scale diffraction contrast tomography system to study the crystallography of materials in 3D and 4D.

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