Materials scientist Arun Devaraj is interested in failure— material failure, that is. And that interest has led him to scientific success, as one of only 76 recipients nationwide to receive a 2020 Early Career Research Program award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The competitive annual award comes with five years of research support totaling to about $2.5 million.
Devaraj will use the award funds to explore how hydrogen, combined with stress and oxidation, leads to catastrophic failures of high-strength steels that are widely used in the nuclear and automotive industries. The research will combine a broad range of techniques available at PNNL and DOE synchrotron facilities to understand how events at the atomic level result in microscopic cracks, and eventually, large-scale degradation. To understand this stress corrosion cracking, he will study individual diffusion and oxidation events by using advanced microscopy methods such as cryogenic-transfer atom probe tomography, in situ electron microscopy, synchrotron X-ray methods, and simulations. The goal of the work will be to develop scientific strategies for designing metal alloys capable of withstanding extreme environments of corrosion, stress, and high temperature.
Devaraj joined PNNL in 2011 as a postdoctoral associate after obtaining a PhD in materials science and engineering from the University of North Texas.
“The DOE is proud to support funding that will sustain America's scientific workforce, and create opportunities for our researchers to remain competitive on the world stage,” said DOE Under Secretary for Science, Paul Dabbar. “By bolstering our commitment to the scientific community, we invest into our nation's next generation of innovators.”
The Early Career Research Program, now in its eleventh year, is managed by DOE's Office of Science and awards research grants to young scientists and engineers at U.S. universities and national laboratories. The grants are designed to support exceptional researchers during the crucial early years of their careers.
Devaraj’s selection brings the total number of early career recipients from PNNL to 20 since the program's inception in 2010.