Amelia Hart, a third-year graduate student in materials science at Rice University, has won the 2013-2014 NASA Harriett G. Jenkins Graduate Fellowship and will spend the next year investigating a novel ceramic-fiber material able to withstand the high temperatures endured by NASA spacecraft.
“I’m working on silica carbide made with carbon nanotubes. It’s a novel configuration,” said Hart, whose NASA fellowship is worth $45,000, with an option to renew for up to an additional two years.
In 2011, Hart joined the research group of Pulickel Ajayan, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor of Engineering. She received a B.S. in physics from Henderson State University in Arkansas in 2007 and her master’s degree in physics from Southern Illinois University in 2010.
For her master’s thesis she worked on combining multiwall carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with various metals to use as solid lubricants. For her Ph.D., she is interested in the growth and use of CNTs for various applications. Her new recipe for nanotubes is designed to be highly heat-resistant, especially when spacecraft reenter Earth’s atmosphere.
In Ajayan’s lab, Hart synthesizes carbon nanotubes (multiwall and single wall) with enhanced dimensions using various chemical vapor deposition techniques. She works on carbon nanotube functionalization, carbon-bond optimization, ceramics, scanning electron microscopy, electron-beam evaporation and Raman spectroscopy.
Hart will spend at least 10 weeks of her fellowship working at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.