Erica L Corral
Associate Professor, BIO5 Institute
Associate Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
Distinguished Scholar, Materials Science and Engineering
Associate Professor, Aerospace-Mechanical Engineering
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 621-0934
Research Interest
Erica Corral, PhD, essentially dives into three primary areas of research. Her first research area focuses on processing ultra-high temperature ceramic (UHTC) composites and coatings for use as advanced thermal protection systems and to provide oxidation protection of carbon-carbon composites. Secondly, she focuses on developing bulk multifunctional high-temperature ceramic nanocomposites reinforced with single-walled carbon nanotubes for enhanced toughness in ceramics that also have tailored electrical and thermal properties. Last but not least, Dr. Corral also focuses on developing nanocomposite compositions of iron oxide and zirconia for use as hydrogen generation materials. Recent postdoctoral research also focused on investigating the thermomechanical properties of UHTCs, and engineering mechanical and chemical properties of glass-composites for use as reliable seals in solid oxide fuel cells, and ceramic powder processing of magnesium oxide and electrolyte powder for use in thermal batteries. As a graduate student at Rice University, Dr. Corral was an NSF-Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Fellow, and pioneered the first SWNT-reinforced silicon nitride nanocomposites with multifunctional properties.


Varma, S. K., Mahapatra, R., Hernandez, C., Chan, A., & Corral, E. (1999). Influence of processing on microstructures of Ti-44Al-11Nb alloy. Materials and Manufacturing Processes, 14(6), 821-835.


The cyclic and static oxidation behavior in the processing of Ti-44Al-11Nb alloy has been studied at 900, 950, and 1000 °C in air for a period of up to 168 hours (or a week). A recreation of diffusion paths for the oxide to penetrate into the base metal during every cycle results in the lower oxidation rates during cyclic mode compared to static mode. An extended period of heating time allows for the coarsening of the structure for both forms of alloys: polycrystalline and directionally solidified crystals. Coarsening and phase transformation in the heating period involves large amounts of dislocation activities in the lamellar structure as well as at the interface of lamellar structure and islands of γ.

Varma, S. K., Salas, D., Ponce, J., Corral, E., Esquivel, E., & Regalado, M. (1997). Influence of solutionizing time and temperature on the bonding characteristics and microstructures between the particles and matrix in composites with 6061 and 2014 aluminum alloys reinforced with alumina particles. TMS Annual Meeting, 287-296.


The composites of 6061 and 2014 aluminum alloys reinforced with alumina particles have been subjected to solutionizing treatment at 540 °C for various lengths of time up to 20 hours. The two composites show different behavior when the hardness is measured as a function of solutionizing time. The 6061 aluminum alloy containing 0.1, 0.15 and 0.2 volume fractions of alumina (VFAP) show a continuous increase in hardness values as a function of solutionizing time while 2014 alloy shows softening under almost identical experimental conditions. The grain growth law has been found to be observed in both composites and their monoliths. The aging behavior as influenced by the solutionizing seems to be affected by the solutionizing time in an identical fashion. Even though the monoliths indicate a decrease in time required to get the peak hardness (TPH) values the composites show an initial decrease and then increase in TPH values at 200 °C as a function of solutionizing time. The bonding between the particles and the matrix in the two composites has been found to improve as a result of longer solutionizing time as can be seen by the SEM fractographs for the samples deformed to fracture during room temperature tensile testing.

Varma, S. K., Ponce, J., Andrews, S., Corral, E., & Salas, D. (1996). Microstructures during solutionizing and aging in a 6061 aluminum alloy matrix reinforced with alumina particles. Materials Science Forum, 217-222(PART 2), 931-936.


The grain growth law has been verified for a range of grain sizes produced in three composites containing 6061 aluminum alloy matrix and 0.10, 0.15 and 0.20 volume fractions of alumina particles (VFAP), with particle sizes of 10, 15 and 20 μm respectively, by solutionizing at 540°C for different times. The solutionizing time affects the (a) microstructures developed at the interface between the particles and the matrices and (b) age hardening characteristics, microstructures and microhardness values, at 200°C.

Corral, E. L., & Miller-Oana, M. (2016). High Temperature Isothermal Oxidation of Ultra-High Temperature Ceramics Using Thermal Gravimetric Analysis. The Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 99, 619-626.
Corral, E. L., & Loehman, R. E. (2008). Ultra-high-temperature ceramic coatings for oxidation protection of carbon-carbon composites. Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 91(5), 1495-1502.


Carbon-carbon (C-C) composites are attractive materials for hypersonic flight vehicles but they oxidize in air at temperatures >500°C and need thermal protection systems to survive aerothermal heating. We investigated using multilayers of high-temperature ceramics such as ZrB2 and SiC to protect C-C against oxidation. Our approach combines pretreatment and processing steps to create continuous and adherent high-temperature ceramic coatings from infiltrated preceramic polymers. We tested our protective coatings at temperatures above 2600°C at the National Solar Thermal Testing Facility using controlled cold-wall heat flux profiles reaching a maximum of 680 W/cm2. © 2008 The American Ceramic Society.