This setup is used for high-energy diffraction microscopy experiments. It involves a rotational and axial motion system load frame insert in a conventional load frame along with near-field and far-field detectors. The loading axis is vertical, and the specimen and specimen grips rotate around the loading axis while the rest of the setup remains stationary. (Credit: Review of Scientific Instruments)

Materials scientists are busy developing advanced materials, while also working to squeeze every bit of performance out of existing materials. This is particularly true in the aerospace industry, where small advantages in weight or extreme temperature tolerance quickly translate into tremendous performance benefits.

The potential pay-offs motivated a team of researchers from the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Advanced Photon Source, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University and PulseRay to work together to pursue their shared goal of characterizing structural materials in unprecedented detail.

The group developed a loading system to enable the precise rotation of a sample while simultaneously and independently applying tensile or compressive axial loading. This allowed the team to nondestructively characterize the microstructure and micromechanical state of a deforming material, providing critical validation data for microstructure-sensitive performance-prediction models.