Instructor Information

Timothy Foecke

Home Phone: 301-414-0075
Work Phone: 301-975-6592
Dr. Foecke is a Staff Metallurgist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where he is Director of the NIST Sheet Metal Forming Center.  His principal interests are mechanical properties of materials, failure analysis, forensics and historical metallurgy.  He has worked extensively on high-profile failures, including the collapse analysis of the World Trade Center, analysis of the sinking of the RMS Titanic (including several television programs, expeditions and a book - "What Really Sank the Titanic (Feb 2008)), preservation modeling of the wreck of the USS Arizona, and has consulted on the wrecks of the CSS Hunley and USS Monitor.  He received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1991.

Course Information

Course Description

Topics include laws of thermodynamics, equilibrium of single and multiphase systems, chemical thermodynamics, statistical thermodynamics of solid solutions, equilibrium phase diagrams, chemical kinetics, diffusion in solids, nucleation and growth processes, coarsening, and glass transition.

Course Goal

This course is designed NOT to make you derive lots of thermodynamic relations and crunch numbers.  It is rather designed to give you a solid understanding of thermodynamics and kinetics of materials, how the rules of thermodynamics and kinetics relate to real-world phenomena, such as phase transformations, phase diagrams, microstructural evolution, and how to use processing to produce a desired microstructure.  Tons of real-world examples.

Course Objectives

  • Understanding the foundation of the laws of thermodynamics, and how they give the tools to analyse the energetics of systems.
  • Understanding the energetics of phase transformations, phase diagrams, and how to use them to predict microstructures.
  • Understanding the kinetics of diffusion, nucleation and growth of phases.
  • Understanding the thermodynamics and kinetics of "the wierd" - nanomaterials, amorphous metals, etc.

When This Course is Typically Offered

This course is typically offered in the evening, midweek, at the Dorsey Center.


  • Definitions, boundaries and over-arching ideas
  • The 1st, 2nd and 3rd laws of thermodynamics
  • State Functions, parameters, properties
  • Entropy, Equations of State
  • Equilibrium, Stability and Metastability
  • Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Systems
  • Partial properties, activities
  • Gibbs Phase rule and Gibbs Free Energy
  • Phase Diagrams
  • Diffusion
  • Nucleation and Growth, coarsening
  • Electrochemistry
  • Nanomaterials
  • Amorphous Materials

Student Assessment Criteria

Homework and Class participation 15%
First Exam 25%
Second Exam 25%
Final 35%

Computer and Technical Requirements

Knowledge of calculus, physics and chemistry is needed, but all concepts fully discussed in class.

Participation Expectations

Exams are in-class and open book and notes.  i test for comprehension of the idea, not whether you can crunch numbers.  I hate lecturing to stenographers - I expect questions and comments.


Textbook information for this course is available online through the MBS Direct Virtual Bookstore.

Course Notes

There are notes for this course.

Final Words from the Instructor

Come find out what Entropy REALLY is.

(Last Modified: 07/22/2008 11:07:57 AM)