Peizhen Kathy Lu, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Virginia Tech, has been awarded a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities to advance her research to add electrical conductivity to ceramic materials by incorporating carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes have been well dispersed in polymers, but not in ceramic composites. Lu believes she can be successful by mixing the ceramic powders, carbon nanotubes, and a dispersant in solution, using an electrosteric process to stabilize the attraction between the tubes and particles, and then freeze casting the resulting homogeneous dispersion to form a solid material. The Powe award provides seed money of $5,000 to faculty members who are in the first two years of their tenure track as an investment in promising achievements in an important area. The institution matches the award.
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