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Novel Materials for Energy Research

Novel Materials for Energy Research

The Ames Laboratory is home to the Materials Preparation Center (MPC).  The MPC is a DOE Basic Energy Sciences specialized research center.  It is one of the premier materials laboratories in the world for the synthesis and processing of rare earth metals and compounds, metallics alloys, complex intermetallics and inorganic compounds in both single crystalline and polycrystalline form. Established in October 1981, the MPC utilizes unique expertise and materials preparation and characterization capabilities developed during the 50+ years of DOE-sponsored Ames Laboratory research.  This national resource is available to researchers and businesses to help meet their material needs.   

Alloy Preparation & Metals Processing:

MPC prepares lab scale to prototype scale quantities via many techniques including:  arc casting, induction casting, vacuum arc remelting, plasma melting, electron beam melting and mechanical alloying.

Single Crystals:  

MPC develops synthesis routes for preparation of single crystalline pure metal and complex intermetallics utilizing Bridgman, Tri-Arc growth Czochralski, strain-anneal and arc-zone refining techniques.

Metal Powders:  

MPC's capabilities in high pressure gas atomization and metal powder consolidation techniques provide researchers access to alloy powders and new gas atomization schemes.


High Purity Rare Earth Metals

Rare earth metals of very high purity are produced by MPC via the "Ames Process": hydrofluorination metallothermic reduction, sublimation or distillation.  MPC rare earth metals are recognized as the world's purest.


   Praseodymium fluoride

Shape Memory Alloys

MPC's ability to synthesize crystals of solid solution alloys, including refractory-based alloys, utilizing high purity starting materials with control impurities levels, has led to fundamental understanding of softening and pre-martensitic phenomena as well as magnetic field induced effects.


Ti"Pd"Cr high temperature shape memory alloy

Magneto Responsive Materials                                       

A wide variety of magneto-responsive materials from elemental rare earths, rare earth metallic compounds and alloys and transition metal magnetic alloys are routinely prepared for physical property determination and structural studies using X-ray and neutron scattering methods.



FeAs Superconductors

Single crystals of Fe's superconductors, grown at the Ames Laboratory, have been used to demonstrate that their superconductivity mechanism is unique compared to all other known classes of superconductors. These findings " combined with their potential good ability to carry current due to their low anisotropy " may open a door to exciting possible applications in zero-resistance power transmission.    



For additional information on the Materials Preparation Center (MPC), please visit