Physics professor spends sabbatical working with ceramic armor


Scott Steckenrider, professor of physics at Illinois College, spent his sabbatical this past academic year working with a company in Maryland on developing nondestructive evaluation (NDE) methods for transparent ceramic armor which is used for windows on military vehicles from Humvees to ships.

“This builds on work that I have been doing for the past several years with Argonne National Lab doing similar analyses of opaque ceramic armor which is primarily being developed for non-window applications in personnel-carrying vehicles such as Humvees, Strykers and even combat ambulances,” Steckenrider said.

All of the materials used are advanced ceramics. These are very high-strength materials often used in a layered composite configuration to absorb as much impact energy as possible without allowing penetration of projectiles, according to Steckenrider.

Steckenrider says that his major contribution is in the NDE elements, using optical, ultrasonic, microwave and other methods to look for “defects” in the ceramic components.

“We are hopeful that the funding for this work will be extended, allowing me to bring some of the research back to the IC campus. However, even if it is not, we are hoping to find additional avenues of support for the work, so there may still be possibilities for getting IC students involved down the road,” Steckenrider said.

Steckenrider was in Maryland working for Technology Assessment & Transfer Inc. which is a diversified advanced materials research and development company.


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