Dr. Greg Hilmas, assistant professor of ceramic engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla, will receive one of Research and Development Magazine’s 2002 R&D 100 awards, also known as the "Oscars of Invention" and the "Pulitzer Prizes of Technology," on Wednesday, Oct. 16, in Chicago.
Hilmas and his colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan and Advanced Ceramics Research Corp. won this award by creating fibrous monolithic ceramics. This type of ceramic is more flaw-tolerant and resistant to damage than traditional ceramics.
With the use of traditional monolithic ceramics, "If you drop a coffee mug on the floor, or place it in a freezer for some time and then fill it with a hot beverage, the mug will shatter due to the drop or rapid temperature change," says Hilmas. A mug made with the patented fibrous monolithic ceramic, however, would act more like wood and metals, chipping and denting instead of shattering.
Practical applications of this material include cutting tool inserts for precision metal machining, drill bit inserts for oil and gas drilling, and high-temperature applications such as jet engine components, hot gas valves, nozzles and thrusters.
Contributions from past winners of the R&D 100 award include the digital wristwatch, antilock brakes, the automated teller machine, the fax machine, the touch-sensitive screen, the Kodak Photo CD, the Nicoderm anti-smoking patch, Taxol anticancer drug and high-definition television.