Mohsen Asle ZaeemAmy ClarkeProf. Mohsen Asle Zaeem (Mechanical Engineering) and Prof. Amy Clarke (Metallurgical and Materials Engineering) were awarded $562,000 from the National Science Foundation for a three-year program to study the origination and evolution of solidification defects in aluminum alloys.

To develop high-performance aluminum alloys to be used as structural components in automotive or aerospace applications, it is critical to have a comprehensive understanding of how microstructural defects form during the solidification step in manufacturing processes such as casting, welding or additive manufacturing. The formation of solidification defects associated with folded oxide layers known as oxide bifilms in aluminum alloys negatively affects the mechanical strength of the manufactured parts.

Asle Zaeem and Clarke’s program aims to scientifically investigate how solidification defects originate and evolve during processing by integrating quantitative computational models with novel experiments for aluminum alloy casting. The fundamental science revealed on defect formation will better guide the development and improvement of manufacturing processes using solidification.

Asle Zaeem will perform multi-billion-atom molecular dynamics simulations and large-scale phase-field simulations to study the solidification defects associated with oxide bifilms and to investigate their influence on the phase nucleation process and formation of dendritic structures in the solidification of aluminum alloys. Clarke will perform advanced in situ X-ray imaging during casting experiments and ex situ electron microscopy of cast part samples to validate and benchmark the computational models. The integrated computational-experimental approach will achieve unparalleled findings on the origination and evolution of solidification defects in aluminum alloys.