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Sustainable Alloy Design: Rare Earth Materials Challenge


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this basic research announcement is building the foundation for the discovery, characterization and predictability of non rare-earth containing high temperature aerospace alloys for high temperature applications. The program seeks highly innovative and nontraditional approaches that advance the fields of high temperature structural materials, and electro-physics research through the discovery and characterization of new non rare-earth containing high temperature metallic alloys that exhibit superior performance at conditions of thermomechanical and physical extremes. DESCRIPTION: The rare earths elements (REE) are a group of 17 elements composed of scandium, yttrium, and the lanthanides. Rare earth materials play a pivotal role in high technology applications through their use in lasers, computers, photovoltaic devices, high temperature superconducting material systems and telecommunications. Rare earth magnets are among the world's strongest and are imperative in the miniaturization of high-tech applications such as miniaturized multi-gigabyte disc drives, cell phones, and other screens that employ liquid crystal or plasma display panel technology. Some of the end applications for rare earth elements include use in defense applications, such as jet fighter engines (in super alloys), missile guidance systems, antimissile defense, and space-based satellites, lasers, in superconductors and communication systems. Realization of the full potential of non rare-earth containing high temperature aerospace alloys requires, (1) tailoring and designing materials at the molecular level through crystal chemistry principles and combinatorial approaces, and elucidating the fundamental chemical and physical processes involved in materials performance, extending the understanding from the nanoscale to the collective (global) behavior at the microscale; and (2) learning how atoms and electrons move within a material under extreme loads to provide insight into the defect production and eventual evaluation into microstructural components, such as dislocations, voids, and grain boundaries. Interest domain includes the fundamental science at the interface of phases of heterogeneous structures, nanotechnology and mesotechnology efforts are focused on new architectures using crystal chemistry principles to create pathways to synthesize alloys for high temperature applications. PHASE I: This focus area provides broad scientific challenges and will require the development of new experimental and computational tools to address the complexity of thermal and magnetic loads as they relate back to the performance of the material. This program seeks bold, new basic research that addresses the design, creation, and employment of nontraditional approaches on synthesis of novel high temperature magnetic alloys and nanostructures that take into account geometric or topological descriptors to characterize similarity and scaling between stimuli under the multi-dimensional external fields (i.e., magnetic and thermal fields) to secure revolutionary advances. PHASE II: There is special interest in fundamental research of high temperature permanent magnets with minimized rare-earth element concentration by focusing on understanding combined thermal loads; e.g. thermal properties of the alloy as a function of temperature and magnetic field; understanding the demagnetization and damage initiation. Phase II should focus on the implementation of Phase I efforts by optimization of the energy product (BH)max is roughly the product of the coercive field Hc an saturation magnetization PHASE III: The contractor will seek a potential demonstration of DoD relevant application(s) through a program, Advanced Technology Development, or Advanced Component Development and Prototypes project. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Rare earth magnets are widely used in commercial applications from primary electric traction motors for transportation to miniature electric motors for a vast array of automotive and actuator applications. Rare earth magnets are especially important in wind-power permanent magnet generators. Increasing temperature capability will assist in additional applications and efficiencies in these applications and open further commercial applications, especially in high-torque electric traction motors.
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