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University of Alabama Doctorate Student Receives Acta Materialia Student Paper Award

By Abby Woodruff

Provided by Dr. Thompson

Jonathan Priedeman, a materials science doctorate student at The University of Alabama, earned an award from one of the most notable international journals specific to materials research, Acta Materialia.

“The influence of alloying in stabilizing a faceted grain boundary structure” was featured in Acta Materialia’s December 2020 publication and recently won the internationally competitive student paper award for its conspicuous value.

“I consider Acta Materialia to be a top-tier journal, consistently publishing high-quality and impactful papers to the materials science community,” Priedeman said.

With assistance and mentoring from a UA Distinguished University Research Professor, Dr. Gregory B. Thompson, Priedeman researched how to make metal grains retain their nanometer size when heated or applied to a mechanical load.

In short, Priedeman hoped to understand grain boundary structures more concretely, enabling higher strength alloys. Nanocrystallites have a small grain size, providing strength to the materials; however, such grains become unstable as they become smaller.

“By adding in small amounts of certain elements to these nanometer-sized grains, they will segregate to the grain boundaries and stop this grain coarsening,” Thompson said.

Priedeman imaged the atomic movement of these small grains as they were heated to 800 C using an aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope. Under this heat, the grain boundary structure, or facet, evolved and were captured in a series of time-lapsed images. The article focused on explaining how these facet structures formed and their persistence to evolve their shape at higher temperatures.

“Coupling the images with atomistic modeling, [Priedeman] revealed how a minor alloying element altered the facet structure as a function of time and temperature,” Thompson said. “It is an eloquent study that increased our understanding between chemical-boundary interactions.”

Through this research, Priedeman was able to determine if alloying stabilized or de-faceted boundaries, an area of active research and debate.

“I believe those results were strongly appreciated by our peers when considering the complexity of the experiments [Priedeman] undertook and then his efforts to link them back to atomistic modeling to reveal the root causes for the boundary evolution,” Thompson said.

Priedeman plans on attending the TMS 2022 conference in Anaheim, California, Feb. 27–March 3, 2022, to formally accept the award.

Acta Materialia is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that provides a space for in-depth research and influential papers in materials science.

“It continues to be the gold standard to aim for in original research reports,” Thompson said.

The Acta Student Award is given to 16 individuals who published in the four Acta journals. Each journal only selects four winners from an international applicant pool.

The application for the award requires a copy of the paper, cover letter, curriculum vitae and two letters of support.

Thompson believes Priedeman is the first student at UA to win this award, which he feels is a great honor and is aspirational for other students.

“This adds one more example to the list of accomplishments our students can achieve at the Capstone,” Thompson said.

Thompson and Priedeman have known each other for over three years. Priedeman graduated from Brigham Young University in 2018 and decided UA would provide him with the best opportunities and education in his graduate studies.

Priedeman is honored to receive the award and appreciative of the help and guidance from Thompson.

“Dr. Thompson gave me the opportunity to participate in this research; it was he who conceptualized the general research direction, obtained external funding and organized the use of facilities at Berkeley National Lab,” Priedeman said.

Thompson was equally complimentary to Priedeman.

“Jonathan really took those ideas, executed the program, and made the research his own,” Thompson added. “His incorporation of the modeling to the microscopy really brought the paper together.”

More than just helping with the research, Priedeman attests that Thompson has “actively created a culture of excellence in his research group,” which allowed him to grow as a student and researcher.

The award-winning paper was supported by the National Science Foundation research grant and can be found at Acta Materialia 201 (2020) 329–340.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s College of Engineering has more than 5,800 students and more than 150 faculty. In recent years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Boren, Mitchell and Truman scholars.


Author: Abby Woodruff    /    Posted on: August 30, 2021    /    Posted in:   Faculty and Staff, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Research, Students,    /    Features: