YW Chung


Yip-Wah Chung

Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Director, NSF Summer Institute on Nanomechanics, Nanomaterials,

and Micro/Nanomanufacturing

Email: ywchung@northwestern.edu


Our research is in the area of surface science, tribology, design and characterization of hard coatings and thin films, and alloy development.  We are interested in understanding how surface interactions affect friction and wear, especially in different temperature and environmental conditions.  Our work in hard coatings and thin film focuses on the synthesis of wear-resistant coatings for tribological applications and thin films that can sustain large plastic strains.  We are working on inexpensive, high-strength, high-toughness, corrosion- and fire-resistant steels and lightweight alloys for infrastructural and transportation applications.  Active research programs include:


·      Design and synthesis of hard coatings with enhanced toughness.  Usually, hard coatings are brittle and cannot sustain sudden impact.  We are developing hard coatings that are also tough by activating plasticity with the incorporation of semi-coherent nanoparticles.

·      Design and development of ultrahigh strength steels with high toughness. This research is done in collaboration with Profs. Fine and Vaynman.  Most ultrahultrahigh strength steels are based on the formation of martensite.  In our research, we are exploring the use of semi-coherent copper-based nanoscale precipitates for obtaining the desired strength without losing toughness.  Our goal is to develop steels with yield strength up to 2000 MPa.

·      Fire- and corrosion-resistant steels.  This work is done in collaboration with Profs. Fine and Vaynman.  The incorporation of specific alloying elements can be used to slow down diffusion and coarsening, thereby retaining strength to higher temperatures.  Such steels will be very useful in structural applications.  Other elements are known to markedly improve corrosion resistance, but also reduce fracture toughness.  We are working on mitigating strategies to obtain steels that are both corrosion-resistant and ductile/tough.


Other pending programs include the following:

·      High-speed large-scale generation of physically and chemically modified surfaces for enhanced biological, tribological, and optical properties

·      Design and development of strong, lightweight magnesium alloys

·      Development of high-performance lubricants



Fellow, Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (2005)

Innovative Research Award, ASME Tribology Division (2002)

Fellow, American Vacuum Society (2000)

Advisory Professor, Fudan University, China (1999)

National Storage Industry Consortium Technical Achievement Award (1999)

Fellow, ASM International (1998)

Visiting Fellow, Japan Society for Promotion of Science (1997)

Ralph A. Teetor Engineering Educator Award (1991)

ASME Tribology Division Best Paper Award (1990)

Faculty Honor Roll (1990)

Teacher of the Year in MSE (1986,1991)


Professional Activities

Member, Hong Kong Research Grants Council

Member, University Grants Committee

Editorial Board, Tribology Letters

Editorial Board, Materials Science and Engineering R

Secretary, AVS Advanced Surface Engineering Division Executive Committee

Member, AVS Prairie Chapter Executive Committee

Program Director, Civil and Mechanical Systems Division, National Science Foundation (2003-2005)

Chair, AVS Advanced Surface Engineering Division (2004)

Guest Editor, MRS Bulletin (March 2003)

Advisory Professor, Fudan University (2000)

American Vacuum Society Board of Directors (1/1998 - 12/1999)

Associate Editor, ASME Journal of Tribology (1997-2003)

Department Chair (1992-98)

Director, NSF/IUCRC Center for Engineering Tribology (1987-1992)


Selected Publications



Monograph/Textbooks Published


“Practical Guide to Surface Science and Spectroscopy”, Academic Press (2001)

“Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering”, CRC Press/ Taylor & Francis Group (2006)

“Micro- and Nanoscale Phenomena in Tribology”, CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group (2011)


Last updated: February 2012