David R. Clarke, an inventive materials scientist recognized worldwide for his outstanding contributions to the study of ceramic materials, has been named Gordon McKay Professor of Materials in Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), effective Jan. 1, 2009.
Clarke, 61, is currently professor of materials and mechanical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He joined UCSB in 1990, chairing the department of materials from 1991 to 1998 and serving as associate dean of the College of Engineering from 2002 to 2004.
“Professor Clarke’s world-renowned expertise in materials science, in particular ceramics and semiconductors, will perfectly complement SEAS’s current presence in this field,” says Frans Spaepen, interim dean of SEAS and John C. and Helen F. Franklin Professor of Applied Physics. “Moreover, colleagues from across the FAS [Faculty of Arts and Sciences] sciences and in related schools will certainly benefit from his experience in building partnerships with federal institutions like Los Alamos Labs and from his past leadership roles in industry research settings like IBM.”
Clarke studies the mechanical behavior of materials, a topic central to many modern technologies. Early in his career, he identified thin glassy phases between crystalline grains in ceramics, work now regarded as seminal in our understanding of how advanced ceramics behave at high temperatures. Subsequent significant contributions have included his observation of dislocations originating at cracks in silicon, his demonstration of loss of crystalline structure in silicon and germanium following indentation, and his identification of failure mechanisms in materials and thin films.
Clarke is also well known for his development over the past 15 years of novel techniques to measure stress in materials. These techniques, known as piezospectroscopy, are now widely used in laboratories worldwide.
More recently, Clarke’s group has researched thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) on turbine blades in aircraft engines. This work has revealed many of the most important phenomena involved in the degradation and ultimate failure of TBCs. His recent research has also included the development of new, luminescent materials and noncontact measurement of temperature using integrated luminescence sensors.
Clarke was awarded a B.Sc. from Sussex University in England in 1968 and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1974. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1974 to 1977; worked in the Structural Ceramics Group at the Rockwell International Science Center in Thousand Oaks, Calif., from 1977 to 1982; taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1982 to 1983; and served as senior manager of the materials science department at IBM’s Research Division from 1983 to 1990.
Since 1997 Clarke has served as co-editor of Annual Reviews of Materials Research. He was named a fellow of the American Ceramic Society in 1985 and a fellow of the American Physical Society in 1986, and he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1999.