The physical, mechanical, and optoelectronic properties of materials are determined by those of the atoms and inter atom bonds between them, by the geometry (crystallography) of their packing into three dimensional structures (phases), by the defects incorporated within, and between grains of these phases and by the volume fraction and topology of the many phases often present in advanced materials. The 3D micro (or nano) structures of these high performance materials is controlled by the thermochemical and sometimes thermomechanical conditions experienced during processing of the material. Composite materials provide a means for combining two or more of these advanced materials to achieve a new state of matter whose properties (usually) lie between those of each material. Exceptions include the fracture related properties of composites (which can be superior to those of either of the materials from which they are made) and nanoscopic materials where the very high fraction of "surface" atoms, and low dimensionality, can profoundly change particle properties.
Haydn Wadley's research group brings this fundamental materials perspective to the design and development of new high performance materials. His groups focus is upon fundamental aspects of materials synthesis and processing, and the unraveling of linkages between the processes thermal, chemical and mechanical environment, the materials evolving 3D structure and its eventual performance. This approach to materials design and manufacturing therefore combines structure property relationships (to identify the optimal 3D material states needed for particular applications) with predictive process modeling, non-invasive in-situ sensing and model predictive control to make materials whose internal microstructure states are optimized. It has resulted in the development of numerous methods for making composites, cellular materials (3D composites where the second material is air or perhaps a different material), thermal and environmental barrier coatings, and thin film multilayers that exhibit giant magneto resistance. The group has developed several novel cellular materials including a new class of cellular composites with record high specific strengths. It has also explored their application as novel multifunctional materials to enable load supporting structures to perform other functionalities such as impact protection, power storage, shape morphing and thermal management. The group's research in thermal and environmental barrier coating systems has led to improvements in the vapor phase and thermal spray processes used for the deposition of these multilayered systems, and has identified new microstructures that extend their maximum operating temperature and degree of protection.
From time to time, the group has taken on large scale projects to solve challenging engineering problems. For example, the group has integrated heatpipe concepts with cellular materials and sandwich construction to design, construct and test large (several meter) jet blast deflector panels that manage the coupled thermo-mechanical loads due to impinging jet engine exhaust plumes. Analogous jet blast protection systems are also being developed to protect ship decks. The group has also investigated, and developed successful solutions to protect structures from near by explosions in water, air and most recently under soil. This research has led to the development of a new fundamental understanding of shock load interactions with structures, and an interest in ballistic resistant materials.
Haydn Wadley's research group has developed many inventions (20 have been awarded patents to date) and has spun out two successful companies. One is commercializing vapor deposition technologies (directed vapor deposition and coaxial plasma deposition) for coating gas turbine engine components, while the second is scaling up new cellular lattice materials, and exploring their application for impulsive load mitigation and thermal protection.
The group conducts its experimental research in four laboratories which are equipped with state of the art equipment for depositing coatings, fabricating composites and making cellular materials. The group has ample funding from government agencies and occasional industry sponsors. It is usually one of the five best funded groups at the University and has openings for one or two Ph.D. candidates each year.