Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor of Engineering
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
University of Virginia
“High Temperature Materials for Hypersonic Vehicle Leading Edge Applications: Thermochemical Stability Considerations”
Abstract: Hypersonic vehicles require sharp leading edges for maneuverability. Sharp leading edges lead to shock waves in close proximity to the vehicle, significantly higher heating than blunt bodies, and necessitate the development of materials with increased temperature capability. In this presentation, the thermochemical environment for hypersonic vehicle leading edge applications will be described, including dissociated gas species and materials temperatures as a function of Mach number. Methods for replicating the hypersonic leading edge environment for materials testing will be reviewed. Materials solutions and material system approaches, both historical and developmental will be covered. Historical development of the leading edge subsystem and lessons learned from the space shuttle program will be presented. Development of new ultra-high temperature ceramics and refractory alloys for the leading edge application will be discussed. Finally, possibilities for a system level approach for multi-functional leading edge applications will be described.
BIO: Elizabeth Opila is the Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Director of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Center for Advanced Materials Systems at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she has been since 2010. Prior to that she held the position of Materials Research Engineer at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH for 19 years where she worked primarily on ceramics for applications in turbine engines, rocket engines, hot structures for thermal protections systems, and other power and propulsion applications. Her current research focus includes understanding thermodynamic and kinetic mechanisms for material degradation in extreme environments, development of life prediction methodology based on understanding of fundamental high temperature chemical reaction mechanisms, and materials development for protection of materials from extreme environments. Prof. Opila received her BS in Ceramic Engineering from the University of Illinois, her MS in Materials Science from the University of California Berkeley, and her PhD in Materials Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and the Electrochemical Society and recipient of the 2021 American Ceramic Society’s Arthur L. Friedberg Award. She has over 140 publications, is editor of 10 proceedings volumes, and coinventor on six patents.