Chou sought after as international lecturer on nanocomposites
Tsu-Wei Chou with awards received after presenting lectures.

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8:13 a.m., Dec. 17, 2010----Tsu-Wei Chou, Pierre S. du Pont Chair of Engineering at the University of Delaware, is in high demand as an expert on nanocomposite materials, delivering six invited lectures in Asia, South America, Europe and the United States in 2010.

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Nanotechnology is an active research area, says Chou, with implications in aeronautics and biotechnology, among other things. He views lecturing as an important way to elevate the work done by UD researchers.

“I am very pleased to have the opportunity to enhance the University of Delaware's visibility at scientific, technical gatherings. It is the best forum to share research findings with our colleagues in nanoscience and nanotechnology worldwide,” says Chou.

Most recently, Chou was a plenary speaker at the Seventh Asian-Australasian Conference on Composite Materials in Taipei, Taiwan on Nov. 16. The biannual conference brought together over 700 attendees from 23 countries.

Chou's presentation, “An assessment of the science and technology of carbon nanotube-based fibers and composites,” discussed the hierarchical structural levels of carbon nanotubes used in composites, which range from one-dimensional to two- and three-dimensional, and summarized the challenges and opportunities in basic research of these materials.

Days later, on Nov. 19, Chou shared results of his exploratory research using carbon nanotubes as a tool for sensing damage in multifunctional fiber composites during a keynote address at the 2010 Annual Conference of the Materials Research Society of Taiwan, attended by 1,100 researchers.

Carbon nanotubes, with their extremely small size and unique electrical conductivity, can be used to penetrate the regions around the fibers and between the layers of composites and form an electrically conductive network, Chou says.

The carbon nanotubes act as sensors in situ, providing a quantitative measure of the onset and accumulation of matrix damage and the effectiveness of self-healing in fiber composites. Research in this area enhances scientists' capability in monitoring the integrity of fiber composites in their structural applications.

Chou also gave invited lectures at the 2nd International Conference on Nanomechanics and Nanocomposites in Beijing, China; the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) 2010 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Wash.; the 2010 Materials and Surface Science Institute Distinguished Lecture at the University of Limerick in Ireland; and the first joint materials conference of TMS (U.S.) and ABM (Brazil) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“Dr. Chou has been invited to give an exceptionally high number of plenary sessions this year at international conferences, which attests to his worldwide recognized research,” says Anette Karlsson, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

A long-time faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and well established researcher, Chou has devoted much of his 40-year career to studying process-structure-property relationships in fiber composites.

In 2000, he began studying the potential application of tiny carbon tubes called “nanotubes” -- which measure from less than one to a few nanometers (one billionth of a meter) in diameter -- in structural and functional materials.

Today, his work is advancing scientific and engineering knowledge of material behavior across length scales from the atomistic to macroscopic levels.

Article by Karen B. Roberts
Photo by Ambre Alexander

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