Professor Emeritus Dr. Robert S. Averback Receives 2020 Robert Cahn Award
Dr. Robert S. Averback, Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering, has been attributed the Robert Cahn Award 2020 by the Journal of Nuclear Materials and the committee of NuMat 2020, the Nuclear Materials Conference, based on his lifelong contribution to the field of nuclear materials.
This award recognizes a scientist of high academic profile in the field of nuclear materials, who has the ability to communicate science to a broad audience and has demonstrated an interest in breaking down barriers between scientific disciplines.
When asked how he got into the field, Averback said, “I began my work in the field of nuclear materials as a new employee at Argonne National Laboratory in 1974. Argonne was established shortly after WWII ended to develop peaceful uses of nuclear power. It was well recognized in 1974 that the structural materials in reactors suffered ‘radiation damage’ from the energetic neutrons released in the fission process. My research focused on the fundamental aspects of defect production during irradiation with energetic particles.”
“My first major accomplishment was to experimentally determine, for the first time, the number of defects that were produced when an atom in a material was struck by an energetic particle, such as a neutron. This work was critical as it not only provided a key quantity needed for damage calculations, but it also revealed that defect production process was very different from simple two body collisions – like billiard balls- but rather it was more a collective process -more like local melting on a very fine length scale, 5 nm. This work dramatically changed our understanding of defect production and damage accumulation in nuclear materials,” said Averback on his early works.
“My recent work has been concerned with the consequences of the defect production process on the microstructural evolution in nanocrystalline alloys exposed either to particle irradiation or to severe plastic deformation. Along with colleagues Profs. Pascal Bellon and Shen Dillon (in MatSE), I have shown that many alloys self-organize under external driving forces to form a high density of nanoprecipitates that are completely stable under prolonged irradiation or shearing. For nuclear materials, this can be quite valuable since these alloys containing nanoprecipitates are extremely strong, and since they are microstructurally stable, the alloys will not denigrate even after years of service in a reactor, or even heal from pre-existing defects in the material,” said Averback.
Professor Averback will give a keynote lecture at the next NuMat Conference in Ghent, Belgium in October 2020.