Los Alamos National Laboratory
Metallurgy (MST-6)

Powder Materials Processing (PMP)

The Powder Materials Processing Team is part of an integrated suite of materials processing, materials characterization, and materials modeling capabilities in MST-6.

At its best, PMP allows customers to tailor material properties by choosing unique material combinations and by choosing custom microstructures and macrostructures. PMP serves a range of customers such as weapons, NASA, nuclear fuels, armor, anti-armor, gas gun targets, and more. The materials the team can process range from carbon through depleted uranium and all the combinations of those materials. The PMP team makes materials in a variety of shapes and sizes from centimeters in diameter to a meter in diameter.

The PMP techniques provide enhanced design freedom to customers because they can be used to form difficult materials into macroscale components for testing and end use.

At its simplest, PMP can form high melting point materials that cannot be formed in any other way:

  • Elements: tungsten, molybdenum, tantalum, niobium, zirconium, hafnium, rhenium, osmium, iridium, carbon
  • Oxides, carbides, borides
  • Other compounds

At the next level of sophistication, PMP can create material mixtures that cannot be made any other way. PMP can make bulk products from dissimilar materials that would normally segregate due to differences in density or melting. Additional materials that do not bond with the matrix material can be caught in the matrix and used to influence the bulk properties of the material.

  • Examples are aluminum mixed with particles of boron carbide and tungsten carbide bonded with cobalt
  • Metal and ceramic composites
  • Metal and polymer composites
  • Metals and carbon nanotubes

At its highest level of sophistication, PMP provides enhanced design freedom because it can make a variety of macrostructures such as thin layers of heterogeneous materials (laminates) and functional gradient materials. Functional gradient materials can be particularly useful because you can grade a property over a thin dimension. There are special cases where structures with controlled porosity can be useful and PMP techniques allow that for macroscopic components.

David Dombrowski, Team Leader

  • Ching-Fong (Chris) Chen
  • Dennis Guidry
  • Kendall Hollis
  • Peggy (Diana) Honnell
  • John (Jack) Kennison
  • Erik Luther
  • Maria Pena
  • Lily Wang
Arc Melter
Thermal spraying torch in operation

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