Structural Metals

Survivability in a contested environment is an important design consideration for a naval ship. For this reason, the basis for the design rules for naval ships lies in the limitations of strength and fracture toughness of the structural metals used in their construction. Improvements in the strength and fracture toughness in structural metals can enable reduced ship light displacement, which itself enables increased speeds and reduced fuel costs. The development of specialized high-strength alloys has well-established physical principles, and is well established in the global community. Since the strength and toughness are emergent properties of the microstructure, we see that failure in these materials results generally from low-probability interactions of microstructural features and/or defects. Models that predict failure come from details of the local configurations, and their interactions through global deformation mechanisms. Developing and implementing these models as part of material and structural design leads to novel materials that enable improved performance.

The intent of these investments is to:

  • Establish an understanding and quantitative description of the mechanisms that define the evolution of a material’s structure as a function of composition and processing
  • Provide an understanding of the complex and dynamic interactions that modify materials structure and behavior as a function of operational demands and loading events
  • Develop characterization and modeling tools, at appropriate length and time scales, to enable the advancement of materials science, including design and predictive capabilities
  • Develop technologically feasible transition paths for advanced structural materials and processing, and the knowledge needed for the confident design and life prediction of components and systems

Research Concentration Areas

The Structural Metals program emphasizes developing the fundamental understanding needed to discover, design, and produce high-performance structural metals. The current focus is on basic and applied research in the areas of advanced naval steels, affordable titanium alloys, temperature-resistant aluminum alloys, and robust and affordable processing and joining technology. Through a balance of experimental, theoretical, and computational work, the Structural Metals program provides warfighters with enhanced materials that improve platform survivability, reduce platform weight, and improve platform efficiency at reduced life-cycle costs. These advantages accrue through the availability of affordable, qualified high-performance structural metals, and the necessary processing techniques to support their production and fabrication.

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Supporting the design and exploitation of new materials through integrated computational materials science and engineering tools and design workflows
  • Identifying new strengthening and toughening mechanisms in metals through novel structure-property relationships for application in severe environments
  • Exploring processing and fabrication technologies to improve the affordability of high-performance structures

Type of Funding Available

  • Basic Research
  • Applied Research

Program Contact Information

Name: Dr. William M. Mullins

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 332

Email for Questions:

How to Submit

Submit white papers, QUAD charts and full proposals for contracts to this email address: ONR Code 33 Research Submissions

Follow instructions within BAA for submission of grant proposals to website.

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