March 25, 2017
Web Feature

Nicole Overman Wins 3rd Place in Science-As-Art Competition

Image of copper published in Minerals, Metals and Materials Society journal


Overman’s image of copper bridging a crack in a tungsten-copper alloy.

Materials engineer Nicole Overman(Offsite link) won 3rd place in a science-as-art competition at The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society(Offsite link)2017 Conference in San Diego, CA. Overman was recognized for her image of copper bridging a crack in a tungsten-copper alloy.

Overman captured the image with a JEOL Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope(Offsite link), a type of microscope that uses a focused beam of electrons to scan a sample and produce images. To show detail, Overman added color to the image.

The science-as-art competition was open to all member of The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society across the globe. Entries were ranked by a panel of society members. Images were evaluated based on material relevance, aesthetics, visual impact, and creativity. Winning entries were displayed at the 2017 conference, posted in the society’s newsletter, and published in JOM(Offsite link), The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society's member journal.

Material Improvement for Fusion Reactors

The image Overman captured stemmed from a project studying tungsten-copper composites as a model material for use in nuclear fusion reactors—a potential source of clean energy. On its own, tungsten is robust and durable. Combining it with copper or other metals with a high melting point, however, makes it even stronger and able to withstand the wear and tear of fusion reactor operation.

Along with Overman, research team members included Chuck Henager(Offsite link)Rick Kurtz(Offsite link)Tim Roosendaal(Offsite link), and former intern Brennan Borlaug. Researchers at the University of California-Santa Barbara also contributed to the project, which was funded by DOE’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences.

About Overman

Overman joined PNNL in 2009 with a master's degree in Material Science and Engineering from Washington State University. Her current research is focused on electron microscopy and mechanical properties testing.

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