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Metallurgy Division Publications - NISTIR 6797

Annual Report cover graphic

Executive Summary

The mission of the NIST Metallurgy Division is to provide critical leadership in the development of measurement methods, standards, and fundamental understanding of materials behavior needed by U.S. materials producers and users to become or remain competitive in the changing global marketplace. As a fundamental part of this mission we are responsible not only for developing new measurement methods with broad applicability across materials classes and industries, but also for working with individual industry groups to develop and integrate measurements, standards, software tools, and evaluated data for specific, technologically important applications.

With our mission in mind we establish our research priorities through extensive consultation and collaboration with our customers in U.S. industry and with our counterparts in the international metrology community, using the following criteria:

• Magnitude and immediacy of industrial need

• Match to our mission

• Whether the NIST contribution is critical for success

• Anticipated impact relative to our investment

• Our ability to respond in a timely fashion with high-quality output

• Opportunity to advance mission science

Using these criteria, our priorities are established by the Division's technical leaders through formal and informal means, including industrial roadmapping activities, workshops, technical meetings, standards committee participation, and individual consultation with our customers. Within the context of industrial relevance and potential impact of our research, technology trends strongly influence the technical directions addressed in Metallurgy Division programs. We prefer to work in rapidly evolving technologies, where advances in measurement science are needed to understand the limitations on system behavior, and, thereby, address issues where our contributions are likely to have an impact on the course of technology.

The Division is composed of 39 scientists, supported by 6 technicians, 6 administrative staff members, and more than 30 guest scientists, organized into five groups that represent the Division's core expertise in Metallurgical Processing, Electrochemical Processing, Magnetic Materials, Materials Structure and Characterization, and Materials Performance. However, by virtue of the interdisciplinary nature of materials problems in the industrial and metrology sectors that we serve, Program teams are assembled across group, division and laboratory boundaries to best meet our project goals. We are committed to assembling the expertise and resources to fulfill our technical goals with the speed and quality necessary to have the desired impact.

Our current research portfolio focuses on fulfilling specific measurement needs of the magnetic data storage, microelectronics packaging, automotive, aerospace, and optoelectronics industries and on establishing national traceable hardness standards needed for international trade. Our output consists of a variety of forms, from scientific publications elucidating fundamental materials behavior to measurement techniques, standard reference materials, evaluated data, software tools, and sensors for on-line process control.

Magnetic Data Storage: In the program on Materials for Magnetic Data Storage, we are examining issues of magnetization control in thin films through the development of microstructure-processing-property relationships for giant magnetoresistance (GMR) spin valves, ferromagnetic measurements and modeling for magnetization control in thin films, a suite of SRMs for magnetic calibration, an international working group creating standard problems to test micromagnetics software used to design magnetic structures, and measurements of magnetic properties of dispersed nanomaterials. In the past year we have started two new major projects in this program. As part of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, a major collaboration between MSEL and the Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory (EEEL) is developing new measurement methods and models for magnetic damping, needed by the magnetic data storage industry in the next 3-5 years to increase switching speed. Our long-term project on GMR thin films is being refocused into Spintronics, the use of spin-polarized electrons for new devices and magnetic imaging. Through an extensive network of university and industrial collaborators, we are using the process measurement and control capabilities of the MSEL Magnetic Engineering Research Facility to develop an understanding of the materials structure and processing issues in the creation and transfer of spin-polarized electrons.

Microelectronics Packaging: In the MSEL Program on Materials for Microelectronics, we are providing tools for producing improved metal interconnects, from copper on-chip interconnects at the nanometer scale to wire bonding to solder joints on printed wiring boards. Our project on measurements and modeling of electrodeposited copper for nanometer scale chip interconnection technology has produced significant value to the microelectronics community. In the two years since beginning the project, we have developed a measurement technique, a theory for control of interface dynamics, and modeling software for predicting quantitatively the ability of complex electrolytes to fill vias and trenches, and have transferred all of these to the appropriate industrial customers. During the last six months we have demonstrated the generality of the theory to electrodeposited metals other than copper, and are examining its relevance to nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS). Our expertise in soldering alloys and processes has led us to work with U.S. industry to develop alternative technologies mandated by international environmental legislation: US manufacturers feel an urgency to have the ability to assembly circuit boards with lead-free solders due to impending restrictions in Japan and Europe. We have been working with an NCMS Consortium since 1997 and with a NEMI Task Force since 1999 to evaluate the manufacturing and reliability of lead-free solders.

Automotive: Within the expanding program on the Forming of Lightweight Materials, we are developing standard test methods for sheet metal forming, measurements of surface roughness, and physically based constitutive laws and measurement tools needed to reveal them. This year we completed the development of process models and data to improve the manufacturing of metal matrix composites for drivetrain components and will continue to work with our industrial partners to apply these models to production. Our new projects are also done in close collaboration with the automotive industry through formal partnerships, such as the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR) and the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV), and will help accelerate the design of forming operations for lightweight materials such as aluminum, that will ultimately improve fuel economy.

Aerospace and Power Generation: Within the Metals Processing Program, we continue to help U.S. aerospace and power generation industries improve responsiveness and competitiveness by accelerating the design of manufacturing processes for turbine engines. In the past year we have completed the thermodynamic database for use by casting foundries in commercial software for modeling solidification of eleven component systems. Our reaction path analysis of multicomponent alloys, also developed this year, is being evaluated by our industrial partners for use in alloy and process design.

Optoelectronics: As a result of a growing collaboration between EEEL and MSEL, a Program on Wide-Band Gap Semiconductors was established at the end of FY2001. Building on the existing projects on metal interconnects for GaN (Metallurgy Division) and on interface and bulk defects in GaN (Ceramics Division), the EEEL-MSEL program will develop a comprehensive suite of measurement methods for characterizing interface and bulk defects limiting the application of GaN and related materials.

National Hardness Standards: In addition to industry-specific goals, national and international standardization activities are a continuing responsibility. As part of our core NIST mission, we provide national and international leadership in the standardization of Rockwell hardness, the primary test measurement used to determine and specify the mechanical properties of metal products. Our responsibility requires us not only to develop the US national standards with traceability from NIST through NVLAP to secondary standards labs and US metals producers and users, but also to provide leadership to ASTM Standards Committees, the US delegation to ISO, BIPM, and OIML.

In addition to starting or expanding program areas in FY2001, we have completed projects in Thermal Spray Processing, High-Temperature Fatigue Resistant Solders, Magnetization Control in Thin Films, and Mechanical Properties of Multilayered and Nanomaterials. In FY2002 the staff members and resources from these projects (» 18% of the Division financial resources) will shift to the areas described above. One possible new program for FY2002 is being evaluated in response to 2001 industrial roadmapping and consortium building for powder processing, particularly for automotive applications.

In addition to these programs there are three themes that cut across these topical areas. Combinatorial/high-throughput methods, computational materials science, and internet delivery of NIST output will have a profound effect on the way we do business in the next five years. Combinatorial methods are designed to rapidly generate knowledge of materials properties by the fabrication and measurement of extensive arrays of extremely small sample elements, followed by data collection and analysis. In the corporate R&D environment, the aim of combinatorial research is the identification of new materials with product-specific characteristics. Combinatorial methods are in their infancy. Through the development of the NIST Combinatorial Methods Research Center, NIST has the opportunity to contribute to the measurement infrastructure needed to exploit this concept. Likewise, computational materials science will help reveal increasingly complex relationships among materials composition, nano and microstructure, and properties. The MSEL Center for Theoretical and Computational Materials Science plays a leading role in the development of software tools needed in our programs and is directed by Metallurgy Division staff. Software tools will continue to be a major part of our strategy for delivering materials models, and the internet will be the most important mechanism for transferring not only software, but also, data, measurement methods, and fundamental information on materials behavior.

In FY2001, Metallurgy Division staff members were recognized for their outstanding contributions to measurement science and technology transfer in the areas of solidification and magnetism. For his pioneering work in crystal growth and solidification, Sam Coriell was made a Fellow of the American Physical Society in March 2001 and was awarded the triennial F. C. Frank Award (co-shared with Don Hurle) by the International Organization for Crystal Growth in Kyoto, Japan (July, 2001). William Boettinger received the 2001 TMS Bruce Chalmers Award, in New Orleans (February 2001), "for showing how fundamental thermodynamic and kinetic models, with modern computational power, lead directly to quantitative predictions of the microstructure generated by solidification." Dr. Boettinger was also named the Van Horn Lecturer at Case Western Reserve University, April 2001 and the Robert B. Pond, Sr. Distinguished Lecturer at The Johns Hopkins University, May 2001. Robert McMichael was awarded the NIST Samuel Wesley Stratton Award for his internationally acclaimed research on measurements and modeling needed for magnetization control in thin film; this is NIST's highest award for scientific excellence.

In this report we have tried to provide insight into how our research programs meet the needs of our customers, how the capabilities of the Metallurgy Division are being used to solve problems important to the national economy and the materials metrology infrastructure, and how we interact with our customers to establish new priorities and programs. We welcome feedback and suggestions from our customers on how we can better serve their needs and encourage increasing collaboration with them to this end.

Carol A. Handwerker
Chief, Metallurgy Division

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