Research and Exploratory Development

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Testing extremes on new materials

Science of Extreme and Multifunctional Materials

Our team utilizes advanced chemistry, materials science, and computational tools across a variety of areas, inventing the future of research in extreme materials, materials characterization, materials design, synthesis and manufacturing, and multifunctional materials.

Program Manager: Morgan Trexler
Assistant Program Manager: Leslie Hamilton

Focus Areas

Creating new materials with extreme survivability, evaluating performance in relevant environments, and linking materials to operational improvements

We develop material solutions and application methods for systems exposed to demanding operating environments such as extreme heat or cold, underwater, and space. We consider the environmental and performance requirements in materials selection and develop solutions and approaches that meet the operational constraints of the intended system. We have developed a suite of test capabilities and methods to characterize material constituent behavior and overall material system performance under extreme environmental conditions, and we have developed unique modeling capabilities to link material properties to enhancements in operational capabilities.

Analyzing materials in custom-designed configurations to gain critical insights and assess performance

We utilize extensive analytical instrumentation to solve the most demanding materials problems. We assess the structure and properties of materials using a wide range of techniques, including nondestructive evaluation, microscopy, crystallography, and mechanical and thermal characterization. We test all material types (metal, ceramic, polymer, composite, biological) and specialize in developing custom-designed configurations to provide program-specific insights.

Inventing new alloys, understanding formation mechanisms, processing materials in new ways, and creating unique structures

We design and produce custom-tailored, high-quality materials and components for sponsor-defined applications. Design and understanding of new alloys and materials systems is computationally guided and augmented by machine-learning insights. Topology optimization and lattice design are coupled with additive manufacturing to enable novel geometries and enhanced thermal-structural capabilities.

Developing materials with integrated, novel capabilities for the warfighter, the planet, and beyond

We conceptualize and develop innovative materials with built-in multifunctionality to meet the needs of sponsors. Our team has expertise in fiber synthesis, multifunctional coatings, adhesives, sensors, and stimulus-responsive materials. Multifunctional materials have been developed to enable new capabilities for divers, sensing in the ocean, enhanced armors, and beyond.

Research Highlights

Exploring the Advantages of Defects in Laser-Manufactured Materials (, July 26, 2021)

“Hopkins APL is a standout partner [for DARPA] in being able to connect materials developments with platform performance” said William (Bill) Carter, DARPA Program Manager (Voices from DARPA Podcast, Episode 36, December 1, 2020)

Microcapsule Additive Allows Underwater Glues to Set in One Minute (New Atlas, April 19, 2021)

Applied Physics Lab Researchers Develop Advanced Soft Robots (JHU Hub, January 22, 2021)

DSS Works with Top Laboratory to Protect U.S. Embassies and Consulates (US Department of State, September 2, 2020)

Michael Brupbacher’s Article Selected as an Editor’s Pick in Applied Optics (Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering, September 21, 2017)

New Generation of Glass Coatings (Coatings World, October 20, 2015)

Sturdy Silica Coatings Take Tough Stance Against Corrosion (Chemical & Engineering News, August 24, 2015)

New Super-Reflective Paint Is the Solution to Your Car’s Scorching Summertime Temperatures (Popular Mechanics, August 19, 2015)

Self-Healing Paint, Chemical Weapons At Home (Chemical & Engineering News, July 14, 2014)

APL Celebrates 80 Years of

Game-Changing Impact

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80th anniversary