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James Burns

James T. Burns

Research Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Materials Science and Engineering; University of Virginia, 2010 
M.S. Materials Science and Engineering; University of Virginia, 2006 
B.S. Engineering Mechanics (Materials) Minor: Mathematics; US Air Force Academy, 2002

Department of Materials Science & Engineering
University of Virginia
PO Box 400745
395 McCormick Road
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4745
Office: Wilsdorf Hall Room 318 
p: 434-243-1939
f: 434-982-5799

Website: Burns Research Group

Research Interests

The intersection of metallurgy, solid mechanics and chemistry is currently at the forefront of several important engineering challenges including:  prognosis of environmentally degraded airframe and ship components, design of the maintenance protocol for storage and distribution of metal embrittling H2 for the hydrogen energy economy, material embrittlement and fatigue issues in the resurgent nuclear power field, and alloy selection and life prediction for bio-medical engineering.

Proper modeling and prediction of the fatigue or fracture behavior of complex metal components necessitates an understanding of the pertinent microstructure and damage physics; specifically the interaction of the mechanical driving force, chemical driving force, and the material response.  Such understanding is also critical for alloy development.  As such our research focuses on the interaction of localized stress/strain with environment conditions, with a particular emphasis on behavior at the crack tip.  In general, experimental data from controlled environmental testing are coupled with high fidelity characterization techniques to gain mechanistic understanding of the damage process; such knowledge is used to inform theoretical and engineering level models.

Current research is centered on aluminum alloys, ultra-high strength stainless steels and nickel-based super-alloys.  The effect of water vapor pressures and temperatures typical of airframe operation are being investigated to quantify and better understand the material properties of legacy and next generation aerospace Al; as necessary to maintain structural integrity and safely extend the useful life of airframes.  The effect of corrosion damage is also being investigated; mechanistic studies are being used to inform engineering level prognosis techniques.  Additionally, the effect of chloride environments (typical of sea-coast or marine environments) on the fatigue behavior of ultra-high strength stainless steels is being investigated.  The use of such steels will enable a reduction in the use of coatings that are both hazardous to personnel and deleterious to the environment.  Additionally, stress corrosion cracking of 5xxx-series Al alloys and Ni-based super-alloys aims to understand the mechanistic causes of the high dependence on cathodic polarization and use this knowledge to inform alloy development, preventive actions, and corrective maintenance.  Collaboration with industry partners has enabled the development of a novel and unique coupling of a testing method and software package that will enable estimates of the safe operating life for components subject to these aggressive environments.

Professonal Experience and Memberships

University of Virginia:

Research Assistant Professor, 2011-present

United States Air Force:
Materials Research Engineer (Captain), 2006-2010
Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate - WP-AFB, OH

Assistant ASIP Manager (1st Lieutenant), 2003-2004 
C-130 System Program Office - Warner Robins AFB, GA

Structural Engineer (2nd Lieutenant), 2002-2003
C-130 System Program Office - Warner Robins AFB, GA

US Air Force Commendation Medal, 2009

Academic All-Mountain West Conference - Football, USAFA, 2001

Selected Publications

Burns JT, “Chapter 5:  Environment enhanced fatigue,” in: Shifler D, Ed. Marine Corrosion:  Causes and Prevention, J Wiley & Sons, New York, NY: accepted.

Burns JT, Gangloff RP, “Effect of low temperature on fatigue crack formation and microstructure-scale growth from corrosion damage in Al-Zn-Mg-Cu”, Metall Mater Trans A, (2013): 44A; 2083-2105.

Burns JT, Larsen JM, Gangloff RP, “Effect of initiation feature on microstructurally small fatigue crack propagation in Al-Zn-Mg-Cu”, International Journal of Fatigue, (2012): 42; 104-121.

Burns JT, Larsen JM, Gangloff  RP, “Driving forces for localized corrosion to fatigue crack transition in Al-Zn-Mg-Cu”, Fatigue and Fracture of Engineering Materials and Structures, (2011): 34; 745-773.

Burns JT, Gangloff RP, “Scientific advances enabling next generation management of corrosion induced fatigue”, Procedia Engineering – ICM 11, (2011): 10; 362-369.

Burns JT, Bush RW, Gangloff RP, “The effect of environment on corrosion induced fatigue crack formation and early propagation in Al 7075-T651,” in: Proceedings of NACE DoD Corrosion Conference, NACE International, La Quinta, CA, 2011.

Burns JT, Kim S, Gangloff RP, “Effectiveness of LEFM fatigue modeling on varying levels of pre-corrosion in Al 7075-T651”, Corrosion Science, (2010): 52; 498-508.

Kim S, Burns JT, Gangloff RP, “Fatigue crack formation and growth from localized corrosion in Al-Zn-Mg-Cu”, Journal of Engineering Fracture Mechanics, (2009): 76 (5); 651-667.