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MSE Colloquium: Dr. Katherine Faber, Probing Pore Space: Creating and Characterizing Porous Ceramics

Simon Ramo Professor of Materials Science, Caltech
Friday, October 19, 2018, 3:00 pm
264 MacQuigg Labs
105 W. Woodruff Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210


Pores have long been regarded as undesirable in the search for the perfect ceramic. The deleterious role of pores on mechanical properties notwithstanding, porosity has now become important, even critical, in expanding the utility of ceramic materials.  In addition to lowering density, pores have become the conduits for fuels and reaction products in fuel and electrolysis cells.  They serve as the size limiter in filtration, the source of high surface area for catalysts, and the path for cell growth in biomedical implants. In this presentation, methods for producing various pore structures in oxide and carbide ceramics are explored. These approaches range from directional freeze casting, in which a fluid, upon freezing, pushes ceramic particles or preceramic polymers aside and serves as a sacrificial template for the pore network, to a fluorotopaz decomposition reaction where acicular grains form “pick-up stick”-like microstructures.  Pore size, fraction, and distribution, as well as connectivity and tortuosity of porous systems, all vital for understanding pore effects on material properties, are evaluated using porosimetry, microscopy, and 3D data sets produced using synchrotron X-rays. Pore network-property relations are also discussed.


Dr. Katherine FaberKatherine T. Faber is the Simon Ramo Professor of Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology.  Her research interests include the fracture of brittle materials and the mechanisms by which such materials can be toughened and strengthened through composite strategies and residual stresses. Her studies comprise ceramics for energy-related applications, including thermal and environmental barrier coatings for power generation and porous solids for filtration and flow. More recently, she has worked with the Art Institute of Chicago to establish the Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts, where advanced materials characterization and analytical techniques are used in support of conservation science. After receiving a BS in ceramic engineering at Alfred University, she earned an MS in ceramic science at the Pennsylvania State University and a PhD in materials science and engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining the Caltech faculty, she held appointments at the Ohio State University and Northwestern University. Professor Faber is a Distinguished Life Member of the American Ceramic Society, fellow of ASM International, and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among her awards are the Society of Women Engineers Distinguished Educator Award (1995), the YWCA Achievement Award for Education (1997), and the John Jeppson Award of the American Ceramic Society (2015). She is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher in Materials (2003) and served as president of the American Ceramic Society (2006–07).