Richard Karnesky

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Richard Karnesky
Richard Karnesky at the LEAP
Presently: Sandia National Laboratories
Research: Now: Hydrogen Isotopes in Metals.
Previously:Aluminum-Scandium Alloys
Education: Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering
Northwestern University

B.S., Engineering and Applied Science
California Institute of Technology


NU refbase: Publications by Karnesky in our database
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4717-457X
Google scholar: Lb--Z8IAAAAJ
ResearcherID: D-1649-2010
Scopus: 6508053640


Dr. Richard Karnesky
MS 916-1
Sandia National Laboratories
7011 East Ave.
Livermore, CA 94550
Phone: 925.294.2106
Fax: 925.294.3231


I am a senior materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories and study hydrogen isotopes in metals. Right now, I'm the Principal Investigator of a Laboratory-Directed Research and Development project to better predict environmentally-assisted intergranular fracture using multiscale/multiphysics models and experiments[1] and am performing basic research using gas-driven permeation, thermal desorption spectroscopy, and local-electrode atom-probe tomography to better predict and reduce tritium permeation[2]. This builds on work I've performed on both conventional[3] and ultra-fine grained[4] aluminum alloys.

I still maintain refbase and occasionally evangelize science on the radio and in bars.

Research at Northwestern

My thesis work[5] focused on aluminum-scandium (Al-Sc) alloys. Additionally, I developed novel data analysis methods for local-electrode atom-probe (LEAP) tomography and applied them to other materials systems.

Al-RE and Al-Sc-RE

Many rare-earth elements (RE) are less expensive than Sc and create precipitates with a higher lattice parameter misfit to Al and can effectively replace Sc in Al-Sc alloys. I found that erbium is less soluble and is a faster diffuser in Al than Sc and forms precipitates with a much larger interfacial free energy[6]. Employing transmission electron microscopy and LEAP tomography, I showed that the rare earth additions change the aging behavior of precipitates[7]. I demonstrated, through experiment and simulation, that alloy strength at room temperature is comparable to alloys with greater amounts of costly Sc[8] and that the alloys are more resistant to creep at higher temperatures[9].


Prior to my research on Al-Sc-RE, I studied Al-Sc and Al-Sc-Zr alloys reinforced with alumina (Al2O3) particles. The several nanometer Al3Sc,Zr precipitates and the sub-micron Al2O3 both strengthen these high-temperature aluminum alloys, which can be used effectively up to at least 350 °C.

Precipitates are formed after aging the alloy which is conventionally cast. Particle reinforcements are added by Dispersion Strengthened Casting (DSC) by Chesapeake Composites. Electrical conductivity measurements show that the Al2O3 does not change substantially the nucleation and growth of Al3Sc,Zr precipitates. I also measured the mechanical properties of the material--most notably its creep resistance. Both DSC-Al-Sc and DSC-Al-Sc-Zr exhibit very high threshold stresses. If the loading does not exceed these threshold stresses, the creep rate isn't experimentally measurable. I developed dislocation climb and detachment models in order to explain this behavior[10]

Other Atom-Probe Tomography Work

I am interested in novel methods of atom-probe tomographic data analysis. I helped to develop and apply algorithms to fit precipitates as ellipsoids[11] and to find the edge-to-edge interprecipitate distance distribution[12] to nickel-based superalloys and Fe-Cu steel.

I founded and help administer the atomprobe mailing list. I am a co-lead developer of refbase and assist in maintaining the atom-probe literature database.

Prior to Northwestern

I am originally from Richland, WA. It was there that I first developed an interest in materials science--through blacksmithing. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree from the California Institute of Technology in 2002 in Engineering and Applied Science. I studied materials science there. I worked at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory at Hanford for one summer. I then did research with Assistant Professor Ersan Üstündag's group, including work for the Spectrometer for Materials Research at Temperature and Stress at Los Alamos National Lab[13].

Selected Publications

  1. Dingreville; Karnesky, Richard A.; Puel, Guillaumel; Schmitt, Jean-Hubert (2015). "Review of the Synergies Between Computational Modeling and Experimental Characterization of Materials Across Length Scales". Journal of Materials Science In Press. doi:10.1007/s10853-015-9551-6. 
  2. Causey, Rion; Karnesky, Richard A.; San Marchi, Chris (2012). "Tritium Barriers and Tritium Diffusion in Fusion Reactors". Comprehensive Nuclear Materials 4 (16): 511-550. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-056033-5.00116-6. 
  3. Kolasinski, Robert D.; Whaley, J. A.; Karnesky, R. A.; San Marchi, C.; Bastasz. R. (2010). "Characterization of the Ne-Al scattering potential using low energy ion scattering maps". Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 269 (11): 1229-1233. doi:10.1016/j.nimb.2010.11.038. 
  4. Karnesky, Richard A.; Yang, Nancy Y.C.; Marchi, Chris San; Topping, Troy D.; Zhang, Zhiui; Li, Ying; Lavernia, Enrique J. (2012). "Solute Distribution and Mechanical Properties of Ultra-Fine-Grained Al-Mg Alloys". ICAA13: 13th International Conference on Aluminum Alloys: 1033-1038. doi:10.1002/9781118495292.ch154. 
  5. Ph.D. Dissertation
  6. van Dalen, Marsha E.; Karnesky, Richard A.; Cabotaje, Joseph R.; Dunand, David C.; Seidman, David N. (2009). "Erbium and Ytterbium Solubilities and Diffusivities in Aluminum as Determined by Nanoscale Characterization of Precipitates". Acta Materialia 57 (14): 4081-4089. doi:10.1016/j.actamat.2009.05.007. 
  7. Karnesky, Richard A.; Dunand, David C.; Seidman, David N. (2009). "Evolution of Nanoscale Precipitates in Al Microalloyed with Sc and Er". Acta Materialia 57 (14): 4022-4031. doi:10.1016/j.actamat.2009.04.034. 
  8. Karnesky, Richard A.; van Dalen, Marsha E.; Dunand, David C.; Seidman, David N. (2006). "Effects of Substituting Rare-Earth Elements for Scandium in a Precipitation-Strengthened Al 0.08 at.% Sc Alloy". Scripta Materialia 55 (5): 437-440. doi:10.1016/j.scriptamat.2006.05.021. 
  9. Karnesky, Richard A.; Seidman, David N.; Dunand, David C. (2006). "Creep of Al-Sc Microalloys with Rare-Earth Element Additions". Materials Science Forum 519-521: 1035-1040. doi:10.4028/ 
  10. Karnesky, Richard A.; Meng, Liang; Dunand, David C. (2007). "Strengthening Mechanisms in Aluminum Containing Coherent Al3Sc Precipitates and Incoherent Al2O3 Dispersoids". Acta Materialia 55 (4): 1299-1308. doi:10.1016/j.actamat.2006.10.004. 
  11. Karnesky, Richard A.; Sudbrack, Chantal K.; Seidman, David N. (2007). "Best-Fit Ellipsoids of Atom-Probe Tomographic Data to Study Coalescence of γ' (L12) Precipitates in Ni-Al-Cr". Scripta Materialia 57 (4): 353-356. doi:10.1016/j.scriptamat.2007.04.020. 
  12. Karnesky, Richard A.; Isheim, Dieter; Seidman, David N. (2007). "Direct Measurement of 2-Dimensional and 3-Dimensional Interprecipitate Distance Distributions from Atom-Probe Tomographic Reconstructions". Applied Physics Letters 91 (1): 013111:1-3. doi:10.1063/1.2753097. 
  13. Üstündag, Ersan; Karnesky, Richard A.; Daymond, Mark R.; Noyan, I. C. (2006). "Dynamical Diffraction Peak Splitting in Time-of-Flight Neutron Diffraction". Applied Physics Letters 89 (23): 233515:1-3. doi:10.1063/1.2402220.