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Xiaoli Tan

Engineers studying nanodefects suspected of causing early failures of electrical materials

By Mike Krapfl, Iowa State University News Service

Breakdowns in electrical materials can lead to short circuits and blown fuses, robbing the power grid and even cell phones of reliability and efficiency. Iowa State University’s Xiaoli Tan, professor of materials science and engineering, is working to be the first to see and record how nanoscale defects in electrical insulators may evolve into material breakdowns. The project is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences Program.