Hassani receives NSF CAREER Award for cold spray 3D printing

By: Chris Dawson

Mostafa Hassani has received a National Science Foundation Early Career Development (NSF CAREER) Award for his proposal to study a type of 3D printing that smashes together material particles at supersonic speed.

Hassani, assistant professor in Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, won the award to support his research proposal “Understanding Bond Formation, Microstructural Development, and Mechanical Properties in Cold Spray Additive Manufacturing – A Unified Experimental and Numerical Approach.”

Mostafa Hassani

“We are very excited to be able to dive into the fundamental science of cold spray additive manufacturing in the next five years,” said Hassani, who joined the Cornell faculty in 2021. “Under what conditions a tiny powder particle traveling at supersonic speeds would bond to a plate upon impact? How strong is the bond? How do microstructures evolve around bonded interfaces? What would be the mechanical response of a material created with hundreds of thousands of such particles? These are among the key questions we will be answering using real-time observations, advanced characterizations and simulations.”

Hassani uses experiments, analytical theory and computer simulations to understand the process-structure-property relationships in structural materials. His Extreme Mechanics, Materials, and Manufacturing (EM3) Lab has several interwoven areas of focus. One is structural materials processing and design, where Hassani exploits the great promise of advanced and additive manufacturing (AM) techniques to create stronger, lighter and more sustainable structural materials.

Using different in-situ techniques, Hassani also looks closely at the processes of deformation and failure of structural materials to understand their underlying mechanisms. A third focus of the EM3 Lab involves micro-projectile impact testing of structural materials where he uses a high-throughput approach to design materials for extreme impact conditions.

This animation of cold spray additive manufacturing demonstrates the multiscale process: Bulk materials are made additively by impact and bonding of tiny powder particles. Animation credit: Lewei He.

Hassani’s CAREER proposal combined all three of these threads into a program of research the NSF found worthy of support. Ultimately, Hassani’s project aims to develop next-generation transformative structural materials by overcoming the constraints on chemistry and microstructure imposed by the traditional melt-based manufacturing processes. Melting metals and then mixing and shaping them into useful configurations was fine for thousands of years, but engineers and designers are asking more of structural materials than the old processes and materials can deliver.

Rather than relying on molten materials, Hassani sees great promise in the cold spray process where the driving force for material buildup is provided by kinetic rather than thermal energy. If successful, Hassani will develop a fundamental understanding of the process-microstructure-property relationships, both at the micro and macroscales, for cold spray additive manufacturing. Hassani says this understanding would enable performance-oriented processing design and a wider use of cold spray additive manufacturing for safety-critical applications.

The CAREER award is the National Science Foundation's most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

“Receiving the NSF CAREER Award is certainly a great honor – one that would have not been possible without the support of both MAE and MSE departments and the hard work of the members of our lab for which I am grateful. I would also like to extend my appreciation to the NSF Advanced Manufacturing program, whose generous support made this award possible.”

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