Dr. Terry Lowe is a research professor in the George S. Ansell Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering. He supports undergraduate and graduate education and research within the department and in two interdisciplinary programs—Materials Science and Quantitative Biosciences and Engineering. My research spans three areas: development of nanostructured metals and alloys, biomedical materials development, and computational modeling of deformation processing. Recognized by Thomson-Reuters as one of the Top 100 Materials Scientists of the 21st Century for pioneering the development of metal nanostructuring methods, much of my work today focuses on evolving High Shear Deformation technology to create ultra strong and biocompatible alloys, especially for orthopedic applications. To advance these research frontiers, I lead the Transdisciplinary Nanostructured Materials Research Team (TNMRT), which integrates students, postdocs, and full-time staff from the academic departments of Metallurgical & Materials Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Physics. The following foundational principles underlie the design and daily operation of the research team:
Convergence between disciplines fuels innovation and discovery.
Diversity and respect for differences is integral to balance and overall success.
Teams outperform individuals—we work together to achieve research project goals.
Our science is based on the understanding that sufficiently large shear deformations, which we impose through High Shear Deformation (HSD) processes, cause material rotations that form specific crystallographic textures, non-equilibrium grain boundary structures, and grain sizes refined to below 70 nm. In multiphase alloys, such large shear deformations also cause shear mixing and enhance diffusion, thereby increasing homogeneity and altering the kinetics of phase nucleation, growth, and transformation. Through combinations of computational modeling and iterative cycles of microstructure characterization and material processing, we design non-isothermal intense shear processes to exploit our understanding of these interlinked phenomena. Because of our special interest in biomedical materials, we extend our knowledge of nanoscale microstructures and internal interfaces to study surfaces and environmental interactions with physiological environments at the cellular level.
Over thirty years of research elucidating mechanisms to create nanoscopic features in materials has enabled the emergence of reliable methods to manufacture bulk nanostructured metals and alloys. Nanostructured metals are becoming commercially available in engineered products for biomedical, aerospace, electronics, and energy industry applications. The adoption of nanostructured metals has followed patterns experienced for introducing other new advanced materials, but with some additional challenges. Challenges include the difficulties of scale-up, intricacies of nanoscale characterization, the lack of consensus standards for product quality, competition with long-established conventional materials, regulatory issues associated with nanoscale technology, and consumer/user education on the virtues and limitations of nanostructuring. Recent examples of structural applications of nanostructured metals will be examined to project how advanced nanostructured metal and alloy applications may evolve. The importance of advancements in enabling technologies, including new materials characterization tools, additive manufacturing methods, and machine learning technology, will be highlighted.