WEB 2250 1/18/2024 Stringfellow
WEB 2250 1/25/2024 McEntire
WEB 2250 2/1/2024 Gunn
WEB 2250 2/15/2024 Cutler
WEB 2250 2/29/2024 Elangovan
WEB 2250 3/14/2024 Harvey
WEB 2250 3/21/2024 Belnap
WEB 2250 3/28/2024 Richardson
WEB 2250 4/4/2024 Virkar
WEB 2250 4/18/2024 Taylor


As part of an elective course ten guest speakers have been invited to participate in a lecture series on advanced inorganic materials during the 2024 Spring semester. These lectures will be recorded and posted on the Materials Science & Engineering YouTube channel and embedded below.

Please see below for lecture videos and abstracts as provided to us. If you wish to view these lectures in person, please see sidebar graph to the left for more information.

Dr. Gerald Stringfellow | 18 January 2024

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) have become the dominant display and lighting sources due to their high efficiency and long operating life. Similar materials are also used for high efficiency solar cells.

This talk will discuss the historical development of the key materials used for LEDs, their properties and growth. An understanding of the thermodynamic properties of the III/V alloys used provides a basis for understanding the growth process, in particular the importance of organometallic vapor phase epitaxy (OMVPE). Solid phase thermodynamics also elucidates the surprisingly high efficiencies observed for AlGaInN green and blue LEDs.


Dr. Bryan McEntire | 25 January 2024

Silicon nitride (Si3N4), a man-made marvel, may be young in the grand scheme of minerals, but its story stretches from stardust to the human body. Though not found naturally on Earth, it has been discovered in meteorites, whispering of its primordial birth. First synthesized in 1857, it languished until the 1950s, when its exceptional toughness and heat resistance found a home in fiery furnaces as a refractory material.

Fueled by government research in the 1970s and 1980s, Si3N4 transcended its fiery beginnings. This dense, abrasion-resistant warrior became an industrial champion, conquering challenges in everything from gas turbine engines and wind turbines to dental drills and high-speed cutting tools. Its heat-defying prowess even graced NASA's space shuttle engines and etched memories in spacecraft computers for millennia.

But beneath the roar of industry, a quieter revolution was brewing. In 1986, Si3N4 embarked on a medical odyssey, mending broken spines with its biocompatible magic. Today, it is the trusted architect of spinal fusion implants, mimicking bone with its adaptable density and stimulating new growth. More than just inert, it actively fights infection, naturally repelling bacteria, fungi, and even viruses.

Silicon nitride's potential seems boundless. Its smooth, wear-resistant polish beckons in hip and knee replacements, while its strength whispers promise of permanent dental implants. It even emerged as a hero in the recent pandemic, instantly inactivating COVID-19 variants.

Though a child of human ingenuity, Si3N4 has outmatched most terrestrial minerals. Silicon nitrides remarkable journey, from the fires of industry to the healing touch of medicine, is a testament to the boundless potential of scientific discovery and the enduring quest to improve human lives.


Jeff Gunn | 01 February 2024

Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides that “Congress shall have power…to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” Patents are intended to promote the progress of science, but whether in today’s world they continue to serve this purpose, or whether they sometimes stifle innovation is debated.

What rights does a patent confer on the owner? How are patents obtained and enforced? What is and what is not patentable? How do I know what is “claimed” by a patent? When and why should I reach out to a patent attorney? Should I consider a career in patent law? We will explore these topics and questions over the course of an hour, followed by a brief question and answer session.

DISCLAIMER: These materials have been prepared solely for educational and entertainment purposes to contribute to the understanding of intellectual property law.  These materials reflect only the personal views of the authors and are not individualized legal advice.  It is understood that each case is fact specific, and that the appropriate solution in any case will vary.  Therefore, these materials may or may not be relevant to any particular situation.  Thus, the authors and TraskBritt, P.C. cannot be bound either philosophically or as representatives of their various present and future clients to the comments expressed in these materials.  The presentation of these materials does not establish any attorney-client relationship with these authors or their firms.  While every attempt was made to ensure that these materials are accurate, errors or omissions may be contained therein, for which any liability is disclaimed. 

Certain third-party company names and third-party trademarks found herein belong to those third parties.  The authors of these materials and TraskBritt, P.C. have no association, sponsorship, endorsement, or other affiliation with any such third-party company or owner of third-party trademarks found herein.


Dr. Willard A. Cutler | 15 February 2024

The invention of synthetic cordierite (Mg2Al4Si5O18) and extrusion die technology in the early 1970s led to the advent of the ceramic-based catalytic convertor, of which the US EPA commented “The automotive catalytic converter, in particular is considered to be one of the great environmental inventions of all time.“ Building on this invention, wall-flow particulate filters with unique porous microstructures, made from a variety of temperature resistant ceramic materials including cordierite, silicon carbide and aluminum titanate now remove the bulk of particulate from gasoline and diesel exhaust.

This talk focuses on one example material science-based innovation for pollution control, highlighting the development and introduction of the aluminum titanate-based diesel particulate filter for passenger cars, first introduced in Europe and now used widely for diesel passenger cars and heavy-duty trucks. The material choice, microstructure development, product development and application to the vehicle system will be discussed. The author will also share some experienced-based pragmatic suggestions, based on this material/product example, for those introducing material science-based products into the marketplace.


Dr. S. Elango Elangovan | 29 February 2024

More than 50 years after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon after traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Perseverance Rover landed on Mars on February, 18 2021. It took seven months and traveled more than 292 million miles. A group of OxEon engineers anxiously watched the broadcast hoping to be a part of history. The historical moment came two months later, on April 20th, when a solid oxide electrolyzer, designed and constructed by OxEon Energy, accomplished the mission of electrolyzing the Martian atmosphere’s CO2 to generate oxygen, marking the first time in human history that a useful commodity was produced from extraterrestrial raw materials. This experiment called MOXIE, Mars In-situ Resource Utilization Experiment, is a test to produce oxygen for life support and for Mars Ascent Vehicle ensuring
extended exploration and safe return of astronauts. This groundbreaking achievement opens a new chapter in space exploration, offering the potential for producing essential resources (e.g., O2 and propellants) on extraterrestrial bodies, thereby enabling extended human presence and future missions beyond Earth’s orbit.

The combination of historical milestones like the moon landing and the breakthrough in in-situ resource production on Mars serves as a testament of striving to achieve the seemingly impossible. Pushing the boundaries of knowledge, understanding, and technological innovation has been at the heart of these missions. The drive for this accomplishment embodies the spirit of discovery, innovation, and perseverance in scientific and engineering advancements. This project brought in a world class team of experts to address many of the difficult challenges. The advances in the space resource field are directly applicable to addressing our own energy and environmental challenges.


Dr. Ian Harvey | 14 March 2024

Ivan Cutler invented a process for making SiC from rice hulls, which contain an intimate mixture of carbon and silica.  Wayne Brown commercialized this by making SiC whiskers, which are still used in high-speed cutting tools for Ni-based superalloys.  This lecture will discuss other high temperature materials including those used in rocket nozzles.  Processing, testing and characterization of composite materials including carbon/carbon, carbon/SiC, and SiC/SiC will be the focus of the lecture.


Dr. J. Dan Belnap | 21 March 2024

Utah is responsible for the genesis of an important group of materials known as polycrystalline diamond (PCD) manufactured at high pressures and high temperatures (HPHT).  University of Utah graduate H. Tracy Hall (Ph.D. 1948 under Henry Eyring) pioneered the synthesis of PCD using conditions of 6.5 GPa and 2200°C at a small company now known as MegaDiamond (Hall H T, Sintered Diamond, a Synthetic Carbonado, Science, (1970) 169, 868-869).  PCD has since evolved into a multibillion USD industrial material used worldwide in critical and diverse applications ranging from oil and gas drilling to aerospace.  In addition to MegaDiamond, two other Utah-based companies (US Synthetic and PreCorp) are part of the worldwide group of over 20 companies supplying PCD.  The scientific principles involved in high pressure sintering of diamond materials will be discussed, as well as a brief overview of the resulting structure and properties.

Diamond is known to have over 500 color centers, of these the single nitrogen + vacancy (NV) optical center has received by far the most technological interest.  The negatively-charged NV center contains two unpaired electrons and forms an optically-readable qubit, which is capable of room-temperature spin manipulation by low energy microwave radiation thereby making it useful for applications such as quantum computation and sensing.   In particular, NV nanodiamond has been shown to be an effective intracellular biosensor to detect properties such as temperature, strain, E/M field, pH, and chemical potential (Zhang, et al, “Toward Quantitative Biosensing w/ Nitrogen Vacancy Center in Diamond, ACS Sens. 2021, 6, 2077-2107).  MegaDiamond has developed a patented/patent pending HPHT process to make high-quality nitrogen vacancy nanodiamond and is working with multiple university collaborators, including the University of Utah.  The HPHT process used to manufacture NV nanodiamond will be discussed, as well as a brief overview of its emerging applications.


Angie Richardson & Dr. Lindsay Fuoco | 28 March 2024

Piezoelectric ceramic industry is a 1.4 billion dollar market with applications as varied as sonar and navigation systems for the US Navy to medical ultrasonics to watch alarms.  The ceramic formulation and processing not only requires structural integrity, but also a high efficiency electrical characteristic that can convert electrical signal to mechanical energy, or mechanical to electrical signal. Piezoceramic technology continues to evolve with material formulation and processing.  Our presentation will provide an overview of piezoelectric ceramic, a brief technology of how it works, piezo applications, current manufacturing process and the next generation technology of piezo textured ceramic.

Angie Richardson graduated from the University of MN, Institute of Technology with a metallurgical engineering degree. After starting in materials research at the Idaho National Lab, Angie spent 40 years in the ceramic manufacturing industry in career roles of process engineering, engineering management and operations director for a ceramic-acoustic facility employing 200 people.  The SLC facility (now L3) produced over one million ceramic components annually for commercial US and international markets and was a critical supplier to the US Government sonar industry. Angie was a key technical expert to an Israel based medical start-up to define a PMN-PT (lead magnesium niobate-lead titanate) composition that went on to be a component of a cancer treatment used worldwide.  Angie is currently a consultant in the piezoceramic industry for the US Navy and commercial industry.


Dr. Anil Virkar | 11 April 2024

State-of-the-art PEMFC use platinum-based catalysts as cathodes. The high cost of Pt and tendency for catalyst degradation at the cathode is the principal reason for devising ways of minimizing the amount of Pt used and ways to enhance catalyst activity and durability. Approaches used to decrease the Pt loading include alloy formation and forming core-shell catalyst with non-noble metal as the core. Alloying as well as the formation of core-shell catalyst alters both the thermodynamics (specifically the chemical potential of Pt) as well as the activity for the oxygen reduction reaction. Extensive literature exists on the processing and characterization of alloy catalysts and core-shell catalysts. The activity as well as the stability of the catalyst also depends on the nature of the support. For instance, it is known that the catalyst stability depends on whether or not the support surface is functionalized with certain groups. The stability of the catalyst depends on the nature of the environment it is exposed to, the composition and structure of the catalyst, particle size distribution, the operating cell voltage, and the type and the nature of the support. Virtually all aspects of the stability of the catalyst can be described in terms of classical thermodynamics and the role of coupled transport through the catalyst support and aqueous/ionomer medium. The main objective of this presentation is to demonstrate the role of classical thermodynamics and the kinetics of coupled transport in designing stable and highly active catalysts as cathodes for PEMFC.

Dale Taylor | 18 April 2024

Ceramic Oxygen Generators (COG) will soon be available commercially and they will replace with solid state COG devices oxygen supplied in high-pressure cylinders ranging from 99.5% medical grade to 99.9999% ultra-pure grade. The devices will extract oxygen from ambient air with 100% selectivity and simultaneously compress it to 200-psig with no moving parts and essentially zero maintenance requirements. The only moving part is a small fan that circulates air through the device, which is insensitive to environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature, altitude, and dust.

They can even provide safe sterile oxygen in the presence of a chemical or biological attack. This talk focuses on the development of the electrochemical cell with its thin non-permeable ceramic membrane and its materials of construction and the development of processes for its fabrication, as well as the development of high-temperature ceramic-ceramic and ceramic-metal seals. The talk will also discuss the development of the multi-cell stack and its incorporation into a thermal-mechanical system required for its reliable operation as the heart of a COG device.