National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

James DiCarlo

Dr. James DiCarlo is a Senior Technologist in the Materials and Structures Division at the NASA Glenn Research Center. He has worked at the center for approximately 35 years in various areas involving high temperature structural materials. Over the years, he has gained international recognition for his studies pertaining to the understanding of ceramic fibers and their metal and ceramic matrix composite systems. Dr. James DiCarlo has authored or co-authored over 150 scientific and technical publications over the course of his career.

On July 9, 2012, the NASA Aerospace academy was privileged to hear Dr. James DiCarlo’s presentation about the applications, processes, and properties for ceramic matrix composites. He began the presentation by briefly explaining traditional composites and how they are fabricated. Furthermore, he described the similarities between a traditional carbon fiber composite and ceramic matrix composite. In short, the common characteristic that links the two forms of composites is the fiber under layer. Dr. DiCarlo pointed out that composites increase their material properties due to the fibers reinforcing the base material. These base materials are typically brittle with a low tensile strength. For example, some of the common base materials are resin and ceramic.

The main purpose of the presentation was to demonstrate how current ceramic matrix composite technology can be applied to aerospace applications. Since, most aerospace applications are experiencing extreme conditions such as high temperature or high stress, the ceramic matrix composite is apparently an ideal substitute. Ceramics are typically used for high temperature but fail during high stresses. Dr. DiCarlo’s research specifically focuses on how to improve the stress capacity of a composite while retaining its high temperature tolerance. In conclusion, the idea is to replace turbine blades with ceramic matrix composites to increase the longevity of gas turbine engines for commercial and government applications