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Center for Laser Applications
Materials Science and Engineering
University of Tn Space Institute
Tullahoma, TN 37388-9700
Dr. Hofmeister began his career in materials science at Pratt-Whitney Government Products Division in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he worked on the Powder Metal Blades and Vanes Program sponsored by DARPA and the USAF. This program used consolidated, rapidly solidified powder to fabricate advanced turbine blades and vanes. He also was a Deputy Program Manager for the Advance Metal Removal Initiative at Pratt-Whitney GPD. Hofmeister returned to Vanderbilt University in 1982 and received his Ph.D. in Materials Science in 1987 under the direction of Prof. R.J. Bayuzick. He has remained at Vanderbilt as a research faculty member. Professor Hofmeister's research is in the area of nucleation and solidification kinetics. He has participated in three space flight experiments sponsored by NASA to study the effects of fluid flow on nucleation using the TEMPUS facility on IML-2, MSL-1, and MSL-1R. Hofmeister was principal investigator for the TEMPUS Incandescence Measurement Instrument Project, which designed and implemented an infrared pyrometer on the existing TEMPUS flight hardware. TEMPUS experiments were conducted by "telescience" operation in low earth orbit using modeling and simulation software, which Hofmeister developed for the space flight experiments. With Professor Bayuzick, he has developed a method to determine nucleation kinetics on levitated metallic melts using statistical techniques. This methodology was used for the evaluation of data from the space flight experiments.
In solidification kinetics, Hofmeister has pioneered the use of ultra high-speed thermal imaging in the observation of solidification at high undercooling. A 1MHz thermal imaging array was developed by Hofmeister to track solidification at 50 meters per second. This equipment was also used to study the impact, spreading, and solidification of molten metal drops. He has also studied the solidification behavior of High Temperature Oxide Superconductors, and was the first to report the ability to form superconducting materials directly from the undercooled melt. He worked on methods for deposition of undercooled liquid ceramics through a grant from the Office of Naval Research.
Hofmeister worked with the Sandia National Labs LENSTM CRADA on development of thermal imaging tools for understanding the thermal behavior of direct metal deposition processes. This work led to a system for closed loop feedback control of the process, significantly increasing the uniformity of deposited materials. The closed loop feedback control was granted US Patent number 6,459,951, October 1, 2002. As a member of the LENS CRADA team, Hofmeister was awarded the President’s Gold Quality Award in 1999. He is now working with NASA Langley to develop free-form fabrication using an electron beam process for future NASA missions.
Professor Hofmeister is working with the Diamond Microelectronics Group at Vanderbilt University on the synthesis of diamond films and carbon nanotubes for field emission, diode and triode applications. He collaborates with the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education in the area of fabrication for hybrid bio-silicon devices and is a member of the Vanderbilt Institute for Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
Hofmeister is an expert in optical pyrometry, high-speed thermal imaging and laser materials processing. He is a past chairman of the Solidification Committee of TMS, a past member of the Journal of Metals editorial staff, and served on the ASM Action in Education Team. He is active in professional organizations. Currently, Professor Hofmeister is the director of the Center for Laser Applications at the University of Tennessee Space Institute in Tullahoma, Tennessee. He is engaged in research using lasers for materials modification, including surface alloying and laser additive manufacture.