Kumar Ankit received the Cahn Prize at the 2018 MRS Fall Meeting and Exhibit.

Kumar Ankit received the Cahn Prize at the 2018 MRS Fall Meeting and Exhibit. Photo courtesy of Kumar Ankit

Kumar Ankit, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, and his co-author Martin E. Glicksman of the Florida Institute of Technology earned the prestigious Cahn Prize for their paper, “Measuring solid-liquid interfacial energy fields: diffusion-limited patterns,” published in the Journal of Materials Science.

The Cahn Prize is named after the Journal of Materials Science founding editor, late Professor Robert Wolfgang Cahn. Each month, the journal’s editors award the Cahn Prize to one paper published in that month’s issue after a rigorous nomination and voting process by distinguished materials scientists. Ankit and Glicksman’s paper won among the 2018 finalists for showing exceptional, original research.

Ankit and Glicksman began this self-driven research journey more than three years ago. Their hypotheses and findings challenged the classical belief within the solidification community that mesoscale pattern evolution is essentially driven by selective amplification of noise because of terrestrial vibrations arising from gravity, sound and thermal fluctuations.

Glicksman had hypothesized that a small energy source called the bias field that occurs at the interface between a material’s solid (crystal) phase and its melt (liquid) are capable of stimulating complex solidification patterns. He brought on Ankit to computationally simulate and validate his theoretical findings, the results of which were also published in the journal Metals earlier this year.

“Our finding can have a considerable impact on materials manufacturing,” Ankit says. “Being able to predictably model the materials’ microstructure will enable manufacturers to tailor their properties to be suitable for die casting, foundry and in additive manufacturing of materials used in automobiles, aircraft, medical instruments and other engineering applications.”

He adds, “The prestigious Cahn Prize now adds more weight to the discovery of capillary-mediated bias fields resident on solid-liquid interfaces that can potentially drive pattern formation deterministically.”

Ankit and Glicksman were recognized at the 2018 MRS Fall Meeting and Exhibit, one of the most important materials science conferences. The event draws more than 6,000 attendees from more than 55 countries. At the event, their paper was declared the winner among the 12 finalists, and the authors received an award of $5,000.

“To stand one’s ground in the face of relentless criticism from an entire community requires a lot of courage,” Ankit says. “However, our self-belief has led us to this coveted prize.”

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