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Tom Berfield receives NSF grant

Tom Berfield receives NSF grant

Application of a thermal gradient induces a solvent-filled thin film to crack into a hierarchically distributed network.

Dr. Thomas Berfield, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has received a research grant from the National Science Foundation to study the failure of thin films. The project, titled "Micro-Patterning Through Mechanics and Cracking of Drying Thin Films," was funded through the Mechanics of Materials Program within NSF's Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI). This is a continuing grant that was approved based upon scientific and technical merit. The term of the award is three years beginning September 1, 2011, with a projected funding total of $250,000.

The project will use two experimental techniques, laser spallation and digital image correlation, to determine critical system parameters such as film stiffness and adhesion strength. These findings will then be used to predict and control thin film failure. One potential application of this work is micro-patterning the reinforcing phase (such as carbon nanotubes) in nanocomposite films. A project summary may be found on the NSF web site (link opens a new window).

Dr. Berfield is director of the Micro-Scale Testing Laboratory (MSTL) in Lutz Hall 316.

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