Published on Saturday October 11, 2008
Michel Barsoum, Distinguished Professor of MSE, currently on sabbatical, joined Los Alamos Neutron Science Center's (LANSCE) Lujan Center on October 11 as the sixth John Wheatley Scholar. He will be at Los Alamos for one year.
Barsoum has many outstanding accomplishments to his credit. In addition to awards for outstanding teaching and research, Barsoum is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and is an Academician in the World Academy of Ceramics. He has been a visiting professor at Max Planck Institutes PML and EKF in Stuttgart and Universite de Poitiers in France and Linkoping University in Sweden. He has over 200 papers and 16 issued and pending patents in materials.
Prof. Barsoum has been in the news recently for reporting scientific evidence that parts of the Great Pyramids of Giza were built using an early form of concrete. This story has been reported and discussed widely in Nature, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, French televisionand other media. Barsoum's surprising discovery established that Egyptian concrete, invented 25 centuries before the Romans', lasts 45 centuries compared to 2 centuries for Portland cement. His neutron scattering studies of Egyptian building materials at the Lujan Center have established further details of this finding.
While Barsoum is well known for his textbook, Fundamentals of Ceramics now in its second printing, perhaps his most enduring scientific success is the discovery and characterization of the "MAX" phases in ceramics. (In the acronym MAX stands the M stands for metal, A for an A-group element (Al, Si, Ge, Sn, etc.) and X in carbon and/or N. This important new class of machinable ternary carbides and nitrides has remarkable toughness and thermal properties. Barsoum and his collaborators have published over 150 refereed papers on MAX phases including papers in Nature and Science and Physical Review Letters. His inaugural 1996 paper has been cited over 500 times.
In 1997, the Laboratory established the Wheatley Scholar program in honor of one of its most illustrious researchers, John Wheatley. Previous Wheatley Scholars have been Ferenc Mezei (1999-2000), Thomas Holden (2001-2002), Takeshi Egami (2002-2003), Gerry Lander (2001-2002), and Dale Schaefer (2004-2005).
During his Wheatley Scholar term at the Lujan Center, Barsoum will help develop programs in neutron scattering instrumentation, particularly as they would serve the advanced materials, composites, and ceramics communities. His studies of archaeo-concrete and MAX phases provide good paradigms for exciting new materials topics well suited for neutron scattering.