University at Buffalo, LIFT Launch Project to Accelerate Development of Hypersonic Materials

Buffalo will lead the development of ceramics and ceramic matrix composite simulations, making them more relevant and accessible to manufacturers.

DETROIT – LIFT, the Detroit-based national manufacturing innovation institute, today announced the University at Buffalo has joined the institute on a project to accelerate the development of materials for hypersonic systems.

This program will aid in faster design and deployment of hypersonic vehicles, lower-cost development processes, improved vehicle performance, and maturation of the supply base for hypersonic components/vehicles. LIFT’s ongoing Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) tool chain development will be expanded to include the discovery, design, and simulation of ceramics and ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), which the University at Buffalo will help support.

Currently, the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of ICME for ceramics and CMCs is much lower than that for other materials so there is no commercial off the shelf system to put in use. Experts must manually program the fundamental physics which are very complex for hybrid materials in hypersonic environments. The University at Buffalo team will build the processing-structure-properties-performance relationships for ceramics and CMCs in the ICME space, along with the machine learning, to make these simulation tools computationally efficient.

Going forward, a manufacturing supply chain will be established for new metallic alloy powders. Novel metallic alloys and relevant ceramics will be manufactured and tested to confirm that physical properties align with ICME models.

“We are incredibly excited to partner with LIFT on this innovative research project, which supports the nation’s defense and advanced manufacturing sectors while enhancing national security,” said James Chen, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“The team at Buffalo has a unique skillset related to ICME for ceramics and ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) that are subjected to extreme environments,” said Noel Mack, Chief Technology Officer, LIFT. “That skillset means simulations can happen in a shorter period of time using standard computing equipment, enabling the simulations to have relevance to manufacturers and enabling the development of hypersonic materials faster.”

Operating at speeds of Mach 5 or higher, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic vehicles are among the Department of Defense’s top priorities, as well as the development of a safe and secure domestic supply base. This project, along with the ongoing work being led by LIFT through the Department of Defense’s Hypersonics Challenge, are a part of the institute’s broader hypersonic materials research portfolio.


LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is the Detroit-based, public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, industry and academia, committed to the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, and implementing talent development initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit or follow on LinkedIn at LIFT or on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.