Department Seminar with Amber Genau: Controlling Microstructure Formation in Cast Iron

Date(s) - 4 Nov 2019
3:10 PM - 4:00 PM

1213 Hoover Hall

Speaker: Amber Genau, Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Title: Controlling Microstructure Formation in Cast Iron

Abstract: Despite centuries of use and extensive study, the complex development of solidification microstructures in cast iron is still incompletely understood.  Small changes in processing conditions and composition can mean the difference between graphite and carbide, or between graphite that forms flakes, nodules or vermicular structures.  As a eutectic alloy, the mechanical properties of cast iron are particularly dependent on the microstructure that forms during the initial solidification process.  Careful tailoring of the microstructure can provide sufficient ductility and a strength-to-weight ratio that allows cast iron to be used in a wider range of applications than ever before.  To exploit these properties, it is necessary to understand exactly how processing parameters and composition influence microstructure formation, particularly graphite morphology.  Processing via directional solidification in a Bridgman-type furnace allows for solidification velocity, thermal gradient, and composition to be precisely and independently controlled and their effects examined.  This talk will describe the creation and analysis of such samples, with a particular focus on the effects of Si and Mn on flake graphite spacing, and nodularizing elements Ce and Mg on graphite morphology.  The effect of microstructure on mechanical properties as measured by digital image correlation will also be discussed, along with the formation of graphite nodules as observed by deep etching and SEM.

Bio: I got my BS and MS in Materials Engineering from ISU both in 2004 through the concurrent BS/MS program.  My master’s thesis was on solidification of atomized Al-Si powder, working with Iver Anderson.  I went to Northwestern University to continue studying alloy solidification in the lab of Peter Voorhees, working on a NASA microgravity flight project related to Ostwald ripening.  After finishing my PhD in 2008, I took a postdoc position in Cologne, Germany at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), where I worked for two years in the Institute for Material Physics in Space.  In 2010, I joined the MSE faculty at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.  I am now an associate professor there.  I received an NSF CAREER award in 2016 and the 2017 UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Seminar Host: Richard LeSar

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