Assistant Research Professor William Kaukler is an experimental materials scientist performing basic and applied research in solidification, crystal growth, thermal protection systems for spacecraft and developing technologies for lunar exploration. All his degrees are in Engineering and he has taught materials science and engineering at both graduate and undergraduate levels.
For 34 years, ally solidification was his strongest area of interest, Microstructure analysis is an important aspect his research which is a basis for his proficiency with image analysis and all techniques of microscopy (optical, sEM, fluorenscence x-ray, TEM, AFM, etc.).
In response to the Columbia accident, expertise in In-Space Fabrication and Repair was needed. Dr. Kaukler participated in the early stages of development of methods and materials for on-orbit repair of the Shuttle carbon-carbon leading edge and silica tiles. He knew that reentry conditions pose the most difficult materials science challenges. Taking these challenges seriously, he was PI on two projects funded in the Advanced Materials for Propulsion Program managed by Beth Cook. These projects were a direct result of the work with thermal protection systems. In one project, he and Dr. Palmer Peters (retired) of NASA developed an Electric Biased TPS for spacecraft reentry that cools the heat shield with an applied electric voltage.
A parallel effort to develop a microwave processing unit for repair of high temperature materials in space also was a product from the TPS work. This in turn evolved into a microwave processing technology investigation to use planetary regolith as a construction material for in- space fabrication.
- 30 years of experience developing various diagnostic and measurement techniques for in-situ, real-time studies during bulk unidirectional solidification of polyphase and single-phase alloys
- Developed X-ray Transmission Microscope Facility to study metal alloy solidification in real-time;
- Developed novel instrument for viscosity measurement of glasses;
- Developed and constructed several systems for observing and studying organic analogs of metal solidification;
- Developed high temperature, micro-thermocouple arrays to measure interfacial undercooling and thermal gradients in metal alloys during solidification;
- Some expertise in hydrogen embrittlement of nickel-based superalloys (developed an Expert System to predict levels of hydrogen embrittlement from alloy composition and property data of Shuttle Main Engine alloys and similar alloys to those);
- Some expertise in laser welding of metal alloys (developed a space simulator for laser welding for KC-135 aircraft experiments and performed a series of welding experiences and performed the diagnostic testing of the weld samples);