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Uncovering Material Foundations – Haixuan Xu


Significant advancements in any field are built on a strong foundational understanding of that field, amassed from years of tireless work. Haixuan Xu’s JDRD project is adding to that foundation in the study of materials science.

In an effort to encourage the very type of work undertaken by Xu’s team, the Federal government introduced the Materials Genome Initiative, a multi-agency undertaking designed to enable the effort to discover, manufacture and deploy advanced materials at a faster pace and a lower price.

Xu’s project uses predictive modeling, logging time on high performance supercomputers to analyze a variety of materials. This is a relatively uncommon practice, as most analyses are conducted with one material at a time, a practice established in the 1980’s.

Specifically, his team is investigating novel combinations of oxide materials for creating interfaces with unprecedented properties and functionalities, focusing on the stability and electronic properties of point defects at the interfaces between complex ternary oxides.

Proposal DiagramPoint defects are irregularities found within a lattice structure. These defects don’t carry the weight of a negative connotation, but rather they present an opportunity for study. According to Xu, the presence of point defects significantly affects the unusual properties displayed by the oxides, and lacking a fundamental understanding of the effect of point defect dynamics limits the ability to generate particular properties within the interfaces.

The applications for the materials discovered during the course of this necessary foundational research is applicable to a variety of areas, including battery performance, ballistic protection, and new forms of electronics.

Currently in its second year, Xu’s project has already yielded one significant publication with several more in progress. Ultimately, Xu hopes his work positions UT for many future research endeavors with the Materials Genome Initiative and other sponsored programs.

Research JDRD funded 1/1/2014-12/31/2015