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AU doctoral student receives one of 10 NSF travel fellowships
11/08/10

James Kelly, a 2006 alumnus who is working on his doctoral degree at the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University, is one of 10 recipients nationwide to receive a National Science Foundation Fellowship for international travel.

Kelly will use his NSF funding to attend the third International Congress on Ceramics to be held in Osaka, Japan, Nov. 14-18. He will be presenting a poster on his Ph.D. research, “Exploring the Preparation of Nanostructured Carbide, Boride and Nitride Ceramic Powders Using Scalable Solvothermal Reactions.”

The fellowship also includes support for a two-day industry and sight-seeing tour at the end of the Congress, as well an opportunity for Kelly to spend an additional two weeks at Ryukoku University in Shiga, Japan, where he will be collaborating with Prof. Manshi Ohyanagi’s research group to study the sintering behavior of lutetium orthosilicate nanophosphors by spark plasma sintering.

Kelly, whose advisor is Olivia Graeve, associate professor of Materials Science, explained carbide, nitride and boride materials are of great interest to the electronic and structural materials markets “because of their unique combination of thermal, electrical, chemical and mechanical properties. Our research focuses on ultra-high temperature ceramics (UHTCs) that have melting temperatures above 5,000 degrees Farenheit.”

Many of the carbides, nitrides and borides – called non-oxide ceramics – are limited in their use by their inherent thermochemical properties, mainly concerning oxidation. By designing composites of the materials, the research group is hoping to overcome the limitations. Kelly notes the processing of the materials is difficult, and therefore expensive, which has further limited their use in commercial applications, and is a problem his group hopes to overcome through the use of innovative synthesis methods.

“We have been investigating a promising low-energy, rapid, and easily scalable process for synthesizing nanopowders with low levels of agglomeration,” Kelly explained. “We have demonstrated this process for the synthesis of 12 different material systems and have extensively studied the processing parameters for one of these systems.”

“Current research efforts involve investigating the chemical purity of powders synthesized by this method as well as spark plasma sintering of a composite system and characterization of some of the key properties. Spark plasma sintering (SPS) is a consolidation method that uses simultaneous application of pressure and current.

The conditions used in SPS can fully consolidate a powder into a bulk specimen in minutes, rather than hours associated with conventional consolidation methods. The rapid consolidation time helps maintain nanostructured features in the bulk specimen that might not be possible otherwise. These features can benefit the properties of the final compact.”

Kelly is the son of Edward and Ellyn Kelly of West Winfield, NY, and is a graduate of Richfield Springs Central School. He also has obtained both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Ceramic Engineering at Alfred University.