Although Associate Professor Maik Lang is a faculty member in the nuclear engineering department, he’s not technically an engineer; instead, he’s a physicist concerned with the fundamental behavior of materials when placed under extreme conditions, especially materials with a wide range of applications.
Lang uses structural characterization involving microscopy, spectroscopy, and scattering techniques to identify why materials exhibit certain properties and behaviors. Understanding how a material functions in harsh environments through atomic-scale techniques—that can view placements of individual atoms and chemical bonds—can have great implication when scaled up to the macro level and real-world applications.
One material class Lang is concerned with is pyrochlore—complex oxides with many technological applications. These ceramics have been frequently studied over the past 30 years, particularly in regard to what happens to their structural properties when exposed to ion irradiation or high temperatures that can render them defective. They have been less studied by neutron characterization, and, prior to Lang’s work, no one had yet used this technique for ion-irradiated materials.
Read the full story at ne.utk.edu.