Engineering science and mechanics professor receives DARPA Young Faculty Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Reginald Hamilton, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State, has received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award (YFA).

Reginald Hamilton Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

The YFA program identifies and engages rising research stars in junior faculty positions at U.S. academic institutions and exposes them to Department of Defense (DOD) needs, as well as DARPA's program development process.

The long-term goal of the YFA program is to develop the next generation of academic scientists, engineers and mathematicians in key disciplines who will focus a significant portion of their career on DOD and national security issues.

Hamilton received the award based on his research proposal, “Additive Manufacturing of Functional Hierarchical Shape Memory Alloy Structures.” Currently, commercially available, shape memory alloys (SMAs) for use as actuators, and for morphing and sensing multifunctional materials, are manufactured in conventional wrought forms, such as wire, flat sheet, tube or rod, from cast ingots. Shrinking down the manufacturing platforms for smaller biomimetic systems would benefit several applications related to defense, healthcare and natural disaster response. As an example, additive manufacturing (AM) would advance printing of 3D structures.

In this project, Hamilton’s team will explore AM techniques for technological advancements in utilizing SMAs for actuation and morphing in microelectromechanical systems. To enable these advancements, the researchers are investigating AM for tuning the alloy composition and material microstructure and designing lamellar (multilayered) SMA structures. 

“To meet application-specific performance metrics, the material designer can alternate lamella composition, for example, SMA and non-SMA layers, and lamellar thickness. The designer can customize the 3D build plan — tracks that make up layers with micron to millimeter scale dimensions — as well as the layer orientations,” Hamilton explained. “The novelty here is locally probing deformation mechanisms at those length scales in order to establish the dependence of the shape memory response on the laser-based, 3D-printed building blocks, and to establish the dependence of the bulk shape memory response on the lamella thicknesses and build plan.”

A Penn State faculty member since 2010, Hamilton received both his master’s degree and doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

DARPA’s mission is to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security.

Last Updated May 20, 2019