As a global force, the U.S. military is called upon to conduct missions that subject its platforms to extreme operational environments and structural loads. The endurance and performance of future Department of Defense platforms may call for the availability of materials with structural properties that significantly surpass current technology.
The Materials with Controlled Microstructural Architecture (MCMA) program seeks to expand beyond the range of material properties currently achievable by overcoming the limitations in material properties that result from bulk-processing methodologies: insufficient control over the arrangement of the constituents and the effects of flaws in the material. To address this challenge, MCMA aims to exploit synergies between microscale control and material properties.
Much as revolutionary advances in structural-engineering design methods made possible the construction of the Eiffel Tower and ushered in the era of skyscrapers, MCMA intends to improve the structural efficiency of materials by controlling their microstructural architecture. The program intends to capitalize on 1) recent advances in the simulation of material properties as a function of microstructural features and 2) emerging fabrication capabilities with feature control at the submillimeter scale.
If successful, the knowledge gained through MCMA could enable the development of new materials with breakthrough properties that operate outside the paradigm of currently established property relationships—for example, materials with the strength of steel but the density of a plastic. The program also plans to address improvements in additional structural properties, such as stiffness, fracture toughness, thermal expansion coefficient and thermal diffusivity.
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