Award recognizes Liu's leadership in materials, alloy science

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Zi-Kui Liu, distinguished professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, received the 2018 William Hume-Rothery Award for his exceptional contributions to the science of alloys during the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society’s (TMS) Annual Meeting and Exhibition, held March 11-15 in Phoenix. Liu also gave a keynote talk titled “Computational Thermodynamics of Materials and Its Applications” as part of the William Hume-Rothery Memorial Symposium.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Liu. “I feel very humbled at the same time, considering that my Ph.D. thesis adviser and several of my mentors from whom I have learned a great deal of knowledge are also on the list of recipients of this award. Not only did they teach me science, but they also introduced me to the great professional societies.”

The William Hume-Rothery Award is presented annually to an outstanding scientific leader in the science of alloys, which are metals formed by blending two or more metallic elements. The award was established in 1972 by TMS to honor the memory of William Hume-Rothery, a pioneer in alloy phases. It is considered a pinnacle award of the TMS society, and Liu was cited “for his pioneering contribution and leadership in the study of computational phase diagrams and thermodynamics for advanced alloy design.”

“It has been so wonderful to have been able to attend the TMS annual meeting consecutively for more than 20 years,” said Liu. “The meetings provide excellent opportunities for the exchange of scientific ideas and for personal interactions. The interactions with the peers at the TMS society, my colleagues and staff in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and researchers in our Phases Research Lab at Penn State have made this possible. I thoroughly enjoy and am grateful for all of these interactions.”

Liu’s research focuses on the modeling and design of a wide range of materials chemistry and processing conducted in his Phases Research Laboratory at Penn State. His recent studies have concentrated on aluminum-, magnesium-, and nickel-based alloys, functionally gradient alloys through additive manufacturing, and other materials such as thermoelectric systems and bulk metallic glasses, and their applications in understanding and predicting relationships among materials chemistry, processing and properties.

Prior to joining Penn State’s faculty in 1999, Liu worked as a research associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and as a senior research scientist at Questek Innovating, LLC. Liu founded the Center for Computational Materials Design, a collaborative effort between Penn State and the Georgia Institute of Technology, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, and served as its director from 2005-14.

He is a Fellow of ASM International and previously served on the board of trustees of ASM International and the TMS board of directors. He received the J. Willard Gibbs Phase Equilibria Award from ASM International, the Spriggs Phase Equilibria Award from The American Ceramic Society, the Lee Hsun Award from Institute of Materials Research, Chinese Academy of Science, and the Wilson Award for Excellence in Research from College of Earth and Mineral Science at Penn State. Liu has published more than 470 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is editor-in-chief of the journal CALPHAD (Computer Coupling of Phase Diagrams and Thermochemistry). He recently finished a textbook, "Computational Thermodynamics of Materials," published by Cambridge University Press.

Liu received a bachelor’s degree in metallurgy from Central South University in China, his master’s degree in materials engineering from the University of Science and Technology Beijing, and his doctorate in physical metallurgy from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden.

TMS is a professional society that connects minerals, metals, and materials scientists and engineers who work in industry, academia and government positions in 94 countries on six continents. Serving a professional and student membership of approximately 13,000 individuals, TMS creates networking, publication and professional development opportunities by convening international conferences, publishing books and journals, and administering awards. For more information on TMS, visit

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Last Updated April 02, 2018