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Faculty Research Award

Distinguished Professor C.T. Sun
Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering

The Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award for 2005 is presented to Professor C.T. Sun. Dr. Sun has made unique contributions at the interface of materials science and aeronautical engineering. He is a researcher with vision and a quiet pioneering spirit. These attributes, as well as his outstanding work in the theoretical modeling of materials properties, make him a leader in the field. His scientific contributions encompass the fields of experimental and theoretical research on composite materials that are central to aerospace applications and military applications where strength, impact resistance, and light weight are critical.

Areas of current research include piezoelectric sandwich structures, defect formation during composite processing, fatigue of bonded joints, fracture of piezoelectric materials and self healing materials His recent paper, "Size-dependant Elastic Moduli of Platelike Nanomaterials", J. Applied Physics, Vol. 93, No. 2, January 2003, is particularly notable in that it reflects Dr. Sun's most recent research direction in the field of nanotechnology.

Dr. Sun has spent his life working on composite materials and has helped them grow from a hopeful curiosity to a hight-cost/high performance specialty material suitable only for "cost-is-no-object" military applications, to the verge of general use in the commercial aerospace industry, where they now promise new frontiers of cost-effectiveness. Airbus Industrie has already incorporated large-scale composite components in many of its Airbus jetliners, and the next generation of Boeing jets, the super efficient 7E7 "dreamliners" will be constructed of almost entirely from composites. These, and countless other applications of these high-strength/low-weight materials, would have been impossible without Dr. Suns many contributions to understanding their mechanical behavior and the best ways to optimize it. His unique contribution has been showing us how to combine two different materials in ways that yield more than the sum of the best properties of both, where it is also quite easy to yield less than the worst of both, if you don't follow Dr. Suns work properly. His legacy will be many generations of aircraft, many generations of researchers, and a host of hidden contributions that he has made to other peoples' work along the way.

Dr. Suns awards include the Research Award for Excellence in faculty research, Schools of Engineering, Purdue University (2004); Best Paper Award, Polymer Matrix Division, 15th Technical Conference, September 9-12, 2001; Medal of Excellence in Composite Materials, Center for Composite Materials, University of Delaware (1997); AIAA Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Award (1997); American Society for Composites 1995 Distinguished Research Award; and the Elmer F Bruhn Award for outstanding teacher in the Purdue University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (1977, 1981).

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