Lukas Bichler, assistant professor of engineering at UBC’s Okanagan campus, has received The Brimacombe Award — a national award given by the Metallurgy and Materials Society (MetSoc) to young achievers who bring people together to collaborate on innovative research and significantly advance research in the field of materials science.
Bichler is only the fourth recipient of the award since its creation in 1998.
“Winning The Brimacombe Award is a very humbling experience,” says Bichler. “I must give credit to my research team, students, collaborators, and mentors, who have helped me tremendously with my research. The excellent collaborative relationship I share with my colleagues enables us to push the boundaries of science and create materials which never existed.”
Bichler’s primary research activity is in the development of novel ceramic materials for the next generation of nuclear power reactors. These reactors (being developed by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.) are expected to be significantly more fuel efficient, safer and more economical to operate than any other nuclear technology to date.
“In order to enable this technology development, scientists and engineers need materials with properties that are very difficult to achieve with conventional or traditional materials. My research team of MASc, PhD, and post-doc students are working with international groups of scientists from numerous organizations and universities in fabricating materials using the most advanced technologies that enable us to prepare materials which would not normally exist in nature.”
Karen Robles, a Master of Applied Science student who works with Bichler, recently received the first-ever MetSoc Masters Scholarship to support her work in in the field of materials science. Specifically, Robles is working to develop and characterize ceramic composite materials using a unique processing method called Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS).
“I will be blending materials in order to create novel composites with superior high-temperature and pressure properties.”
The materials Bichler and Robles are working with could also be of use to other industries, such as fuel cells or oil and gas, where wear resistance is a crucial property of design materials.
“I feel absolutely ecstatic about receiving the award,” adds Robles. “The competition was definitely tough and it is an absolute honour to be recognized by the organization. This award will fund my tuition for the upcoming year, but more importantly the scholarship is motivation for me and my research team to keep going and deliver the research that we have been working so hard to complete.”
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