Meet Da Cao

My name is Da Cao and I’m a fourth-year PhD student from the department of Nuclear Engineering. I am co-advised by Dr. Mohamed Bourham and Dr. Ge Yang. I am focusing on potential candidate materials for better radiation shielding and anti-corrosion. I will continue my research in understanding and applying radiation shielding to tear down the fear of nuclear energy after graduation. During my free time, I like to spend time with my cat (always Cheetah). I like reading, swimming, working out, hiking, and cooking.  Exploring cities and restaurants is also one of my favorite activities.

What instruments are you using for your research and why do you like them?

I have used the Bruker Hysitron TI980 Triboindenter and the Xradia micro X-ray CT instrument for my research. Since my research focuses on the material characterization on semiconductors and polymer and ceramic composites, nanoindentation can help me understand the mechanical properties of materials, while nano-CT shows a fascinating internal world of my samples. I can’t give enough thanks to the helpful and knowledgeable AIF staff members. They have helped me a lot in understanding the operation principles and data analysis.  

What have you been researching and how is it impacting the community?

As we all know, unwanted exposure to ionizing radiation poses biologically hazardous to both humans and the environment, as it can lead to organ damage, cell mutation, component failure, and other harmful effects. However, these traditional shielding materials, like lead, cooper, stainless steel, etc., are costly, heavy, and often toxic to the environment. Thus, I am working on developing plastic composites with micro particles that can attenuate both gamma rays and neutrons whilst mitigating the disadvantages of traditional shielding materials. Apart from fabricating plastic composites with a fast UV curing method, I need to conduct radiation shielding measurements to test their gamma-ray shielding ability and do characteristic testing to determine the mechanical property and particle dispersing to evaluate their potential performance as functional materials. Hence, I hope my work could shed some light on the rapid-manufacturing of radiation shielding materials with excellent mechanical and shielding properties.

3D Structure of Shielding Composites

What have you learned from your experience at AIF?

I have learned how to use two different characterization instruments to obtain the mechanical property and structural information of my samples. I really enjoy every moment with the wonderful staff, in which I have gained much knowledge and ideas for my research.

Best thing about AIF in 5 words or less? 

Great instruments and great staff

Is there a staff member at AIF that has helped you?

BB, Roberto, Phillip, Jenny, Ruksana, Chuck, and Anna have helped me lot in testing, training, and other needs. Many thanks to them for the kind support and help.