Department of Mechanical and Enviromental Engineering
Solid Mechanics, Materials, and Structures: Our research interests currently fall broadly into three categories: composite materials for aerospace applications, fusion reactor materials, radiation embrittlement of light water reactor steels.
He joined the faculty at UCSB in 1978 and currently holds joint appointments in the departments of Mechanical and Environmental Engineering and Chemical Engineering. Professor Lucas' research interests lie primarily in the experimental investigation of the response of structural materials to processing variables and service environment. The goal is to understand the fundamental mechanisms of processes that lead to design limiting behavior like fracture and to use that information to improve the material's performance by altering manufacturing or service conditions. In all cases, the research involves applying a range of experimental tools (from microstructural analysis techniques like transmission electron microscopy to mechanical test techniques like fracture toughness) as well as analytical tools (such as finite element methods) to develop the requisite information base. In many cases, the state of the art of materials testing has been advanced in the process by the development of novel approaches such as automated microhardness testing or surface strain mapping as part of the research. He is currently engaged in collaborative research on composite materials for advanced aerospace applications with Professors Odette and Levi. This work includes improving the fracture resistance of intermetallic matrix composites by introducing ductile phases in a variety of morphologies and microstructures including duplex phase structures, microlaminates, and in-situ composites with the intent of designing microstructures to achieve optimum properties. He is also involved in developing metallic matrix composites with superior high-temperature properties by the addition of populations of stable dispersoids. His collaborative work with Professor Odette extends to developing an understanding of the evolution of microstructures and consequent changes in mechanical properties of structural alloys such as high- and low-alloy ferritic steels, austenitic and martensitic stainless steels, and vanadium alloys used in aggressive radiation and chemical environments. This understanding is used to develop life assessment methods for these materials as well as to guide alloy design. Professor Lucas' current research funding comes from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, and the U.S. Air Force (through General Electric).