Professor Matt Helgeson Receives DOE Early Career Award

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Professor Matthew Helgeson has been awarded a prestigious research grant from the US Department of Energy's Early Career Research Program. Under the program, university-based researchers will receive at least $150,000 per year to cover summer salary and research expenses. 

Complex fluids are at the heart of Helgeson’s research. These are materials that exhibit properties and behavior that lie in between those of ordinary solids, liquids and gasses due to the strong response of their structure to deformation and flow. Common examples include quicksand, silly putty and shaving gel; these types of fluids are also used in new and high tech processes such as 3D printing.

According to Helgeson, the award will enable his group to see better how the structure of complex fluids behaves under flow. Neutron scattering is ideal for probing this behavior, because it is both non-destructive and highly sensitive to structures at the nanoscopic length scales that exist in many complex fluids.

“This award will enable us to develop neutron scattering methods that give unparalleled measurement of the nanostructure and dynamics of complex fluids in situ under flow,” Helgeson said. Previous methods of making these measurements focus on steady flows and simple deformations, he added, but real-life processing of complex fluids in industry typically involves different types and rates of flow that change over time, and thus produce different behaviors. The device the group is developing will allow researchers to emulate these complex flows and measure the fluids’ properties and behaviors.

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Awards and Accolades