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) 621-8115
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.


Walker, L. S., Miller, J. E., Hilmas, G. E., Evans, L. R., & Corral, E. L. (2011). Coextrusion of Zirconia-Iron Oxide Honeycomb Substrates for Solar-Based Thermochemical Generation of Carbon Monoxide for Renewable Fuels. ENERGY & FUELS, 26(1), 712-721.

Ceramic honeycombs based on homogeneous composites of zirconia and iron oxide are formed using polymer-based coextrusion for testing in thermochemical reactors to generate CO for renewable fuels. The honeycomb substrates possess controlled surface areas and are processed using zirconia with 3 and 8 mol % yttria additions to investigate the influence of surface area and oxygen conductivity of the substrate on the CO generation properties. CO generation was tested using a gas chromatography mass spectrometer and a laboratory scale thermochemical reactor capable of precisely controlling temperature and gas conditions. Results showed that reaction temperature and reactant gas flow rate effect CO generation. The yttria content of the zirconia support phase was also found to have a significant impact on the long-term CO generation, improving iron oxide conversion from 41 to 58%. Yttria content did not markedly impact the short-term reaction properties. Increasing the surface area of the substrates, from 2.6 up to 8.5 cm(2), did not result in improvements in CO generation within the resolution of the test equipment. The substrates reacted by two distinct mechanisms, an initial, spontaneous surface reaction that changed over time to a diffusion-based mechanism utilizing reaction material from the bulk. These substrate systems exhibit the high reactivity necessary for large-scale thermochemical reactors, while being based on common materials.

Varma, S. K., Salas, D., Corral, E., Esquivel, E., Chawla, K. K., & Mahapatra, R. (1999). Microstructural development during aging of 2014 aluminum alloy composite. Journal of Materials Science, 34(8), 1855-1863.


The 2014 aluminum alloy reinforced with 0.1 and 0.15 volume fraction of alumina particles (VFAP) have been solutionized for a range of time from 1.5 to 20 h at 813 K. The effect of solutionizing time (ST) on the age hardening response of the composites has been studied and compared with the characteristics exhibited by the monolith. The results indicate that increasing the ST decreases the time required to get the peak hardness (TPH) values in the monolith but the composites do not show a systematic monotonic behavior. The TPH values first decrease and then increase with an increase in ST at an aging temperature of 473 K for the composite. It has been speculated that the ST influences the concentration of quenched-in vacancies and continued heating may affect the bonding between particles and matrix which can generate additional dislocations throughout the solutionizing process due to curvature effects.

Fuller, J., Hilmas, G., Fahrenholtz, W., Corral, E., & Riegel, L. (2010). Guest Editorial. Journal of the European Ceramic Society, 30(11), 2145-2146.
Miller-Oana, M., Neff, P. K., Valdez, M., Powell, A., Walker, L. S., & Corral, E. L. (2014). Oxidation Behavior of Aerospace Materials in High Enthalpy Flows Using an Oxyacetylene Torch Facility. THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CERAMIC SOCIETY, Published Online-Early Preview, 1-12.
Varma, S. K., Salas, D., Corral, E., Esquivel, E., & Regalado, M. (1998). Microstructures in composites of age hardenable aluminum alloy deformed by room temperature rolling and tensile testing. TMS Annual Meeting, 225-230.


Age hardenable 2014 aluminum alloys and composites containing 0.10 and 0.15 volume fractions of alumina particles (VFAP) have been solutionized at 540 and 550 °C for up to 20 hours. The solutionized samples, heat treated for 5 and 20 hours, have been subjected to room temperature rolling until cracking develops. The work hardening curves have been compared to determine the effect of solutionizing time on the rolling characteristics from both hardness and the microstructural evolution points of view. Solutionizing at two different temperatures results in differences in the extent to which the composites can be rolled until fracture. The microstructural characterization by TEM has been performed to understand the room temperature rolling behavior.