2018 Hatfield Memorial Lecture

Connection and Pathways Evolving from a Metallurgical Education at Sheffield University

Dr Jeffrey Wadsworth, Former President and CEO of Battelle Memorial Institute

Dr jeff Wadsworth during his presentationIn an entertaining and informative talk, Dr Jeff Wadsworth kept the Hatfield Memorial Lecture audience fully engaged with stories from his career. With his guidance, we travelled from Ancient Egypt to neural bypass technology, with several stops along the way.

The journey began with Dr Wadsworth’s work in the development of superplastic steels, and how they happened to discover, or rather rediscover, the secrets of Damascus Steel. In addition to reproducing the Damascus patterns that arise from redistribution of the carbides in steel, the superplastic steel was also made into laminates with mild steel, then forged and folded repeatedly, while undergoing heat treatment cycles to control the microstructure.

While working on the development of these laminated steels, Dr Wadsworth and his colleagues became aware of a process for carbon dating steel, allowing them to investigate the provenance of a number of historical artifacts.

With this knowledge, Dr Wadsworth turned his attention to reviewing some historical mysteries. Frank Richtig was a knife maker from Nebraska who claimed to have a secret method of treating his knives so that they would be tough and retain their sharp edge. To demonstrate their properties, Richtig would cut up steel bolts, horseshoes and axles, and then cut newspaper to show edge retention. Subsequent work found that Richtig had discovered the process of Austempering well ahead of his time.

Dr Jeff Wadsworth receives pewter bowl from Prof Koen LambertsNext, we travelled to Giza in Egypt, and the Great Pyramid, where a piece of laminated steel was discovered in 1837, and claimed to date from 2650 BC, with his understanding of carbon dating, Dr Wadsworth proposed to confirm the date using this technique. However, the British Museum were reluctant to let the artefact be compromised by such testing, so while the technique to more accurately estimate the age of the piece exists, this is one mystery that will remain intact...for now.

Dr Wadsworth then moved on to talking about the amazing work carried out at Battelle Memorial Institute, For instance, did you know that bar codes, compact discs and the Xerox machine were all developed at the Institute. They have the world’s most powerful laser, and the world’s fastest computer. They are leading research in energy, advanced manufacturing, defense and healthcare, and Dr Wadsworth, Alumnus of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield, led the company and shaped its vision for nine years.

In his presentation, Dr Wadsworth echoed the vision of Gordon Battelle, founder of the Battelle Memorial Institute. Battelle wanted to translate scientific discovery and technology advances into societal benefits for the purpose of education in connection with and the encouragement of creative and research work in the making of discoveries and inventions to do the greatest good for humanity.

Dr Wadsworth emphasised that there is no greater gift than that of an education and that he and the Battelle Memorial Institute are dedicated to making sure this continues to be the case. To this end, in addition to the private gifts that he and his wife have given, the Battelle Memorial Institute has made a donation to the University, to mark Dr Wadsworth’s retirement. In 2017, Battelle awarded the University $1.5 million to support international research partnerships - an early career fellowship exchange programme between the University, Battelle and Ohio State University.

The ambition for the Wadsworth Fellowships is to provide an outstanding educational experience for early-career researchers and to advance the academic programmes and values of the institutions involved.

Click here to view the presentation slides.

Dr Jeff WadsworthAbstract: Connection and Pathways Evolving from a Metallurgical Education at Sheffield University

By Dr Jeffrey Wadsworth
Former President and CEO of Battelle Memorial Institute

Following his graduation from the Sheffield University Metallurgy Department the Dr Wadsworth embarked on a series of technical, management, and leadership challenges that all benefited from the education he received.

He initially joined Stanford University to develop superplasticity in steels which led to unexpected connections to the past including Damascus steels, ancient layered structures, and carbon dating of historical steel artifacts.

After joining Lockheed Missiles and Space Company the metallurgical principles learned at Sheffield were applied to the most exotic high temperature materials systems.

At the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory those same principles were applied in national security and energy fields and evolved into genomics. The complex interactions amongst National Security, energy, and the life sciences became a focus in helping establish the science and technology programs for the newly-formed Department of Homeland Security, as Director at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and finally at Battelle.

All of these programs had a foundation requiring an understanding of metallurgical and materials sciences but also world leading computer, neutron, and laser facilities. Neuroscience discoveries became part of the author’s scholarship programs amongst the University of Sheffield, Battelle, and The Ohio State and Carnegie Mellon universities along with research areas in materials science and engineering.

Dr Wadsworth will illustrate these connections and pathways with technical examples and also describe some of the characters involved in their development.

Sponsors of the Hatfield Memorial Lecture