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High Throughput, High Temperature Mechanical Test Platform




OBJECTIVE: Design, develop, and demonstrate a high-throughput mechanical test platform capable of replicating extreme thermal-mechanical-chemical environments.


DESCRIPTION: The DoD requires robust, high temperature materials for a variety of extreme thermomechanical applications, including hypersonics, advanced propulsion, and next generation materials processing.  These structures may experience transient thermomechanical loads while also in the presence of harsh chemical environments that may accelerate material degradation.  However, most current mechanical test practices are unable to replicate relevant environments to inform material behaviors under extreme conditions.  For example, currently there are two ASTM standards available for determining the flexure strength (ASTM C1211) and uniaxial tensile strength (ASTM C1366) of ceramics at elevated temperatures.  In general, “elevated temperature” may be considered as temperatures up to 1600 °C, well below the temperatures that ceramics may experience under extreme conditions, e.g. in hypersonic and advanced propulsion applications. Neither of these tests are designed for high throughput and the test fixtures may not have the thermomechanical properties to survive more extreme conditions.  


Thus, new methodologies for quickly testing structural materials under relevant environments are required to accelerate materials development for extreme operating conditions.    A variety of sub-scale, high-throughput experimental techniques have emerged as potential routes for quickly screening candidate materials, although more research is needed to assess whether these approaches are representative of full-scale testing.


If successful, this effort would enable a novel characterization tool that would be capable of simulating the extreme operating environment to rapidly assess next generation materials expected to experience harsh thermal, mechanical, and chemical loads.


PHASE I: Identify a methodology and initiate fixture fabrication along with associated hardware/software to perform high-throughput, high temperature mechanical testing of materials. The specific methodology is not prescribed but must be capable of performing mechanical testing in relevant thermal environments.  Specific capabilities that are desired include: the ability to rapidly vary and control the temperature of the sample while simultaneously performing mechanical characterization. The approach should incorporate automation where possible to enable rapid assessment (e.g., in sample preparation, sample loading, testing, and/or data analysis).  To maximize testing and data throughput, the concept must demonstrate at least a 10-fold improvement in the rate of experimentation over current manual high temperature mechanical testing techniques.  The method should be tailored for research and development of next-generation structural materials for extreme environments, e.g. ultrahigh temperature ceramics, carbon-carbon composites, and/or refractory metals.  The concept must also outline an approach for assessing the accuracy of the method with respect to current testing standards (e.g. ASTM C1211 and C1366). Develop a Phase II plan.


PHASE II: Design and develop a high-throughput, high temperature mechanical test platform with the ability to rapidly vary and control environmental conditions as prescribed by the user.  Validate the thermomechanical characterization method with conventional testing approaches.  In addition, performer should outline a plan for integrating atmospheric control and/or surface characterization methods to determine sample degradation due to the thermal-mechanical-chemical environment, e.g. through modular fixtures that enable imaging and/or emission spectroscopy techniques.  It is recommended that the performer work with bulk material vendors/Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and/or high temperature material testing agencies to facilitate transition for Phase III.   Successful completion of Phase II shall include a demonstration to DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory scientists and engineers engaged in high temperature testing of materials for extreme thermomechanical environments.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The completion of this effort would provide an automated tool that receives, prepares, assesses, and analyzes the high temperature performance of materials in extreme thermal-mechanical-chemical environments in a way that accurately reflects the full-scale behaviors of the structures.  Phase III will transition high throughput, high temperature materials testing techniques to commercial suppliers through bulk material vendors, OEMs, or other partnering agreement(s). Commercialization of this technology may be through the development of kits or modules for retrofitting existing high temperature testing apparatus, or through the development of full turn-key systems.  Spatially and temporally measuring surface chemistry in these environments is of high interest given the importance for understanding materials degradation as well as multi-physics behaviors, e.g. gas-materials interactions during high speed flows.  Surface characterization methods may include imaging approaches, emission spectroscopy techniques, etc.  If successful, this technology would provide DoD scientists and engineers a platform for rapidly assessing next generation high temperature structural materials.



  1. ASTM C1211 “Standard Test Method for Flexural Strength of Advanced Ceramics at Elevated Temperatures,” ASTM International;
  2. ASTM C1366 “Standard Test Method for Tensile Strength of Monolithic Advanced Ceramics at Elevated Temperatures,” ASTM International


KEYWORDS: High temperature mechanical test, high temperature material, subscale testing, data-driven design, hypersonics, automation, machine learning, autonomous experimentation, high-throughput experimentation

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