Imagine U.S. Navy ships having the capability of being undetectable to enemy radar technology. Current Navy ships are usually made from medal, which allows them to be exposed to terrorist attacks. Composites materials would allow U.S. Navy ships to “disappear” when tracked by traditional means using metal detecting technology.

In May 2013, Felicia Powell became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in ocean engineering in research, development and operations pertaining to oceans from Florida Atlantic University (FAU). She has studied the use of composites for modern shipbuilding. Additional research is needed because layered composite materials that work well in dry environments will fall apart in water.

“My research question expanded into a dissertation with investigation of dual inclusion of nanoparticles in the resin, as well as the carbon fibers to improve performance properties,” said Powell. She wants to research how to apply nanotechnology materials to deep-sea technology and/or green energy.

In 2008, Powell began conducting research “using nanotechnology to increase the durability and interlaminar properties of composites by treating the carbon fiber surface with polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) nanoparticles, with increase of shear strength by 25 percent and reduction of water absorption by 30 percent.”

[Black Engineer]