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K-State News
Kansas State University
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1525 Mid-Campus Dr North
Manhattan, KS 66506


Engineering professor receives prestigious NSF CAREER award

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020


MANHATTAN — Due to their light weight and high strength, metal matrix composites are increasingly used in automotive, aerospace, electronics packaging and thermal management applications. However, attaining both high strength and high toughness in these composites is an essential requirement for their use in these structural applications.

Dong Lin, assistant professor in the industrial and manufacturing systems engineering department of the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering at Kansas State University, has been awarded a $500,000, five-year National Science Foundation grant from its Faculty Early Career Development Program to investigate a novel manufacturing technique to engineer just such nacre- or bio-inspired, 3D metal-graphene composites.

The Faculty Early Career Development , or CAREER, Program offers the NSF's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education, and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

This CAREER project will establish a bio-inspired manufacturing technology to engineer high-strength, high-toughness metal-graphene composites.

"Nature-evolved, damage-tolerant materials such as nacre, bone and wood are both strong and tough because of their hierarchical composite structure," Lin said. "Unlike bone and wood, which have complex microstructures, nacre, more commonly known as mother of pearl, exhibits superior mechanical properties with a simple composite microstructure.

"The toughness of nacre is three orders of magnitude higher than that of its main constituent, aragonite," he said, "owing to its hierarchical 'brick-and-mortar' microstructure."

Lin's project, "Bio-Inspired Manufacturing of High-Strength, High-Toughness Metal-Graphene Composites," will develop both computational and experimental capabilities to understand the strengthening and toughening mechanisms of these materials, and is expected to greatly impact the metal matrix composites industry.

The research will be complemented by an educational and outreach program involving curriculum development, research training, and engaging K-12 students and the general public. Success of the educational strategy will help supply Kansas and the U.S. manufacturing industry with a high-quality manufacturing workforce.


Dong Lin


Industrial and manufacturing systems engineering department

Carl R. Ice College of Engineering


Download the following photo.

Dong Lin

Dong Lin, Kansas State University assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering.

Written by

Mary Rankin