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Ames Laboratory Scientists Join Consortium to Research Lightweight Materials

Producing cleaner, cheaper, smarter, stronger, lighter, and more corrosion-resistant materials for industry is vital

Ames Laboratory

LightMAT logoImage courtesy of the Ames LaboratoryScientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Ames Laboratory will play a key role in the Lightweight Materials National Lab Consortium, or LightMAT.  The recently announced consortium consists of nine DOE national laboratories and will focus on developing and deploying lightweight materials for industry more quickly and at a fraction of current costs to strengthen U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.

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Producing cleaner, cheaper, smarter, stronger, lighter, and more corrosion-resistant materials for industry is vital, according to Ames Laboratory materials scientist Iver Anderson.  Industry demands these materials for automobiles, trains, aircraft, farm machinery or any transportation vehicle in which reducing weight is the primary means to achieving energy savings.

Ames Laboratory materials scientist Iver AndersonAmes Laboratory materials scientist Iver Anderson.Photo courtesy of the Ames Laboratory“Every vehicle will go farther if it’s lighter,” said Anderson.  “But at the same time lightweight materials must also be strong in order to combat denting problems and corrosion.  These are great problems for LightMAT scientists to be addressing with industry.”

Ames Laboratory will contribute to LightMAT through three core capabilities. The first will combine the Laboratory’s strengths in lightweight powder processing, additive manufacturing, and nondestructive evaluation.  “This effort focuses on lightweight metal powders,” said Anderson, who also served as a technical capabilities expert on the LightMAT Steering Committee.  “We call this expertise powder to parts.”

The second core capability takes advantage of Ames Laboratory’s expertise in pilot-scale materials processing through the Laboratory’s Materials Preparation Center. 

“We’ll be extending our current research in both conventional and unconventional materials processing, particularly in the area of single-crystal growth, one of the Ames Laboratory’s strengths,” said Anderson, who is also an adjunct professor in Iowa State University’s Materials Sciences and Engineering (MSE) department.

The third capability will target Ames Laboratory’s strengths in theoretical alloy development and rapid verification of new materials. 

“This is the latest way to speed up development of new alloys,” said Anderson, who adds the theoretical effort will be led by Duane Johnson, Ames Laboratory Chief Research Officer and MSE professor. “There are some alloy design theories out there that work well and we’re lucky to have Duane who’s been very successful at alloy development modeling to help,” said Anderson.  

Additionally, Jun Cui, Ames Laboratory materials scientist and MSE associate professor, will contribute to Johnson’s alloy development efforts through his expertise in the verification of models through bulk combinatorial-synthesis experiments. 

Anderson calls LightMAT a flagship program for its emphasis on problem solving.  “Once LightMAT has established its menu of technical capabilities, our goal is to let industry ‘shop the aisles’ and tell us what types of problems they’d like us to help solve. This way we can assemble the right pieces for technologies that will help industry partners gain more market share or create new markets, said Anderson.  “I think this consortium is definitely in the right place and doing the right things.”

LightMAT is part of the DOE’s newly created Energy Materials Network (EMN), which is sponsored by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and aims to dramatically decrease time-to-market for advanced materials innovations critical to many clean energy technologies.  LightMAT is managed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  In addition to Ames Laboratory, partners include Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.  More information on LightMAT can be found at:

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) leads the U.S. Department of Energy’s efforts to develop and deliver market-driven solutions for energy-saving homes, building, and manufacturing; sustainable transportation; and renewable electricity generation.