Alloys Research Earns TMS Best Poster Prize

Adam Shaw ’18 won a Best Student Poster prize at The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) Annual Meeting held earlier this year in San Diego, California.

Shaw’s poster, “Phase Stability of bcc MgSc Alloys via Cluster Expansion and Monte Carlo Methods,” received the top award in the undergraduate Light Metals Division. With faculty advisors, including Lori Bassman, Harvey Mudd professor of engineering and associate dean for academic affairs, Shaw works on computationally creating phase diagrams of complex alloy systems entirely from first-principles calculations.

“My poster focused on trying to recreate the MgSc binary phase diagram at a variety of temperatures,” says Shaw, an individual program of studies major (physics and inorganic/physical chemistry). “This is difficult because exactly solving for crystal energies is only easily possible at absolute zero. For the poster, I applied probabilistic computational methods, called Monte Carlo algorithms, which can extend our knowledge of crystal energies to non-zero temperatures. The work is ongoing, and I’m now trying to create the MgScY ternary phase diagram using a similar method.”

In addition to Shaw and Bassman, contributors to the research poster included alumni Gregory Pomrehn ’04 of The Boeing Company and Aurora Pribram-Jones ’09 of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as well as Patrick Conway, Michael Ferry and Kevin Laws of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, where Shaw spent last summer doing research.

The project is funded by a three-year, $229,898 grant from the National Science Foundation and conducted under the Harvey Mudd Jude and Eileen Laspa Fellowship in Applied Mechanics. Harvey Mudd students and UNSW mentors have collaborated for the past four years on the fabrication, study and modeling of novel high-entropy alloys, the focus of considerable attention due to their potential to exceed traditional alloys in a broad range of important uses, from their incorporation in lightweight, high-strength structures to their use in high-temperature and corrosive environments.

The computational side of the project is supported by a large allocation of supercomputing resources awarded in September 2014. Harvey Mudd is able to access The Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), the most powerful and robust collection of integrated advanced digital resources and supercomputing services in the world.

Shaw’s is one of 10 award-winning posters (out of 70 entries) in the TMS Technical Division Student Poster Contest, which included categories for both undergraduate and graduate students. In 2015, Harvey Mudd student researchers received TMS’s Best Undergraduate Poster and Best of Show awards for the poster, “Microstructure, Phase Evolution and Properties of High Entropy Brasses and Bronzes.”

The TMS 2017 Annual Meeting and Exhibition was attended by nine Harvey Mudd students. The event offers invaluable opportunities to compete in lucrative, resume-building competitions, network with professionals and learn more about the minerals, metals and materials science and engineering professions.