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My research interests are centered on the microstructure-property relationship of advanced materials for use in the extreme environments encountered in advanced energy applications. I am particularly interested in developing and applying in situ methods to reveal the evolution of the microstructural state during exposure to an extreme environment?irradiation, temperature, stress, or combinations of them.

Current Research:

Dislocation-Grain Boundary Interactions in Irradiated Materials and Their Impact on Irradiation-Assisted Stress Corrosion Cracking

Understanding how the dislocations within dislocation channels interact with grain boundaries has important implications for the mechanical properties of irradiated materials, as well as irradiation-assisted stress corrosion cracking (IASCC). IASCC is a major concern for extending the lifetime of the current light water reactors. It is proposed that these interactions govern the effect of cracking, although the mechanistic details remain to be identified.

My recent research investigated the dynamics of dislocation interactions with grain boundaries in ion and proton irradiated stainless steels. The straining experiments were conducted in situ in a transmission electron microscope. These experiments were complemented by post-deformation characterization of bulk irradiated materials. What emerged was the result that slip transfer across a grain boundary in irradiated materials is governed by the same rules as in unirradiated materials but with one important difference. The process changes to being dislocation propagation limited as opposed to nucleation limited. This means the resolved shear stress increases in importance. It must be of sufficient magnitude to propel the dislocations through the irradiation hardened matrix. If this condition is not satisfied, the grain boundary may respond by nucleating and propagating a crack along itself. This mechanism if validated will change how we model and design for such failures.

Figure 1. Interaction of dislocations and a ƒ°9 grain boundary in a Kr+ irradiated 304 stainless steel sample. (a-d) Time resolved snapshots from a video showing the evolution of four new dislocation systems (1aout, 1bout, 1cin and 1dg.b.) emitting from the grain boundary due to this interaction. Conducting the experiments in real time was essential as slip system 1a dominated, 1b showed limited activity before stopping, and 1c was activated with 1b. This insight was critical in determining the interaction.

Richard Brook Prize for Best PhD in Ceramics in the UK (2012)

Guastv Eirich Award, European Centre for Refractories (2012)

Tony Evans Prize for Best Ceramics Thesis, Imperial College London (2012)

Lee Family Scholarship, Imperial College London (2008-2011)

Hancock Travel Award, Imperial College London (2010)

Outstanding Masterfs Thesis Award, Tsinghua University (2008)

Outstanding Bachelorfs Thesis Award, Tsinghua University (2006)

1. B Cui, J Kacher, M McMurtrey, GS Was, IM Robertson. Influence of irradiation damage on slip transfer across grain boundaries. Acta Materialia, 2014, 65, 15-160.

2. M McMurtrey, GS Was, B Cui, IM Robertson, L Patric, D Farkas. Strain localization at dislocation channel-grain boundary intersections in irradiated stainless steel. International Journal of Plasticity, in press.

3. B Cui, E Zapata-Solvasa, MJ Reece, C Wang, WE Lee, "Microstructure and high-temperature oxidation behaviour of Ti3AlC2/W composites" Journal of American Ceramic Society, 2013, 96, 584-591.

4. B Cui, R Sa, DD Jayaseelan, F Inam, MJ Reece, WE Lee, "Microstructural evolution during high-temperature oxidation of spark plasma sintered Ti2AlN ceramics" Acta Materialia, 2012, 60, 1079-1092.

5. B Cui, DD Jayaseelan, WE Lee. TEM study of the early stages of Ti2AlC oxidation at 900 oC. Scripta Materialia, 2012, 67, 830-833. 6. B Cui, DD Jayaseelan, WE Lee, "Microstructural evolution during high-temperature oxidation of Ti2AlC ceramics" Acta Materialia, 2011, 59, 4116-4125.

7. B Cui, H Lin, YZ Liu, J Li, P Sun, XC Zhao, CJ Liu, "Photophysical and photocatalytic properties of core-ring structured NiCo2O4 nanoplatelets" Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2009, 113 (32):14083-14087.

8. B Cui, H Lin, J Li, J Yang, J Tao, X Li, "Core-ring structure NiCo2O4 nanoplatelet: synthesis, characterization, and electro-catalytic application" Advanced Functional Materials, 2008, 18 (9): 1440-1447.

2011-present: Research Associate, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

PhD in Materials, Imperial College London, London, UK (2011)
Thesis: Microstructural Evolution and Oxidation Behaviour of Spark Plasma Sintered Mn+1AXn Ceramics
Supervisor: Prof. WE (Bill) Lee

M. Eng in Materials, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China (2008)
Thesis: Synthesis, Characterization and Electrocatalytic (Photocatalytic) Properties of NiCo2O4 Nanomaterials

B. Eng in Materials, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China (2006)

Irradiation-assisted stress corrosion cracking
Collaborator: Prof. Gary Was, University of Michigan

Micromechanics of irradiated materials studied by in situ TEM deformation
Collaborator: Dr. Mark Kirk, Argonne National Laboratory

Deformation mechanism of oxide-dispersion-strengthened steels
Collaborators: Yinbin Miao, Prof. James F. Stubbins, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Radiation damage of Fe-based ferritic alloys (with Virginia McCreary)
Collaborator: Dr. Ben C. Larson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory