A PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut has received the Materials Research Society’s (MRS) Gold Graduate Student Award for its fall 2017 meeting.
“It’s a huge honor. MRS is an esteemed organization and this meeting is one of the biggest conferences in the world for researchers in the field,” Sypek said. “To even be a finalist and then to win the Gold Award is really wonderful, especially to represent UConn and the Materials Science and Engineering Department.”
John Sypek from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to the progress of materials research through work to identify an intermetallic compound with his advisor, Soek-Woo Lee. The compound has remarkable shape-memory properties that can potentially be used for a range of purposes including deep space travel.
The calcium-iron arsenide alloy Sypek is studying exhibits super-elasticity and shape memory effect, meaning it is highly compressible and it can “remember” its shape after being subject to extremely cold cryogenic temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees Kelvin, which is around minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dr. Seok-Woo Lee, Sypek’s supervisor, has received a $586,648 grant from NASA to study the mechanical properties of the compound in hopes of unlocking the potential of using it to create a cryogenic actuator, a mechanical component of many kinds of spacecraft.