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Albert V. Brandemarte

In military settings, the performance of metal can have life or death consequences. That's why the Department of Defense has metallographers like ALBERT V. BRANDEMARTE at the Carderock Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in West Bethesda, Md., on its payroll. Many of his micrographs derive from samples of steel alloys that comprise some of the tougher stuff of military matériel. One of the delights of his job, Brandemarte says, is the beauty of the data he creates.

Image 1, which is reminiscent of a windswept desert, reveals some of the microstructural transformations that occur when a piece of steel intended for the hull of a naval vessel is hit with a munition. Image 2, which reminds Brandemarte of Mount Fuji, shows steel that picked up too much carbon as it was fashioned into a tie-down socket for a ship's deck. Used to cinch heavy equipment to the deck, metal tie-down sockets with such flaws can crack and fail. Images 3 and 4 depict the grain structure of the metal rhenium, an expensive and hard-to-fabricate material that is particularly suited for duty amid hot propellant exhausts, as is the case in rockets and gun tubes.

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All images courtesy of Albert V. Brandemarte