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Caen Ang

Caen Ang

Research Scientist


Caen Ang is currently an ARPA-E Research Fellow in the Department of Nuclear Engineering. His research interests are the development of advanced materials for extreme environment conditions. He currently directs materials synthesis in the Fuel Development Laboratory, which has engineered several patented innovations, including advanced composite moderators, bio-mimic packing of encapsulated nuclear materials, and core structures for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) systems.

  • Moderators are materials that control nuclear reactions. Typically, graphite or water are used, but these respectively lead to problems in the core, such as dimensional stability and aggressive corrosion. These compound the complexity and economics of reactor longevity. A key outcome of new moderators are the elimination of unnecessary systems and reduction in core size in future reactors.
  • Nuclear fuel based on encapsulation morphologies have demonstrated exceptional safety, which is a key step for the public acceptance and thus expansion of this key CO2-neutral energy source. Nuclear energy is particularly adamant for nations with high population density that cannot feasibly deploy solar and wind.
  • NTP proposes the use of a nuclear reactor to power vehicles for interplanetary spaceflight. In chemical rockets, idiosyncratic innovations maximizing fuel payload are paramount, and subsequent spaceflight mechanics are fuel-conservative (via orbital transfers and gravity-assist). NTP is analogous to steam-powered ships replacing those powered (and affected) by wind. A key outcome is the reduction of interplanetary transit time to weeks rather than months.

Caen's current academic goals are to understand the synthesis, properties and ground-testing of advanced materials to implement the above technologies, in the interest of creating robust, reliable and ultra-safe reactor cores.


Advanced Ceramics / ARPA-E Research Fellow, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2017/2018-present

PD, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2014-2017, Neutron irradiation of ceramics and composites & Development of mitigation coatings for advanced LWR fuel cladding

PhD (Eng), MU/CSIRO, 2009-2014, Ultra-High Temperature Ceramics and Composites for Extreme Environments

BSc (Hons), Monash University (MU), 2008-2009, Synthesis of ceramics via pre-ceramic and solution-based processing

Professional Service

Member, American Ceramic Society (ACERS)

Member, American Nuclear Society

Symposia member, ACERS International Conference and Exposition on Advanced Ceramics and Composites

Panel member, DD-MSTD Selection Committee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory



C. Ang, S. Judd, S. Zinkle, K. Benensky, Sintering of niobium carbide as a candidate Ultra High Temperature Ceramic (UHTC) matrix for Fully Ceramic Microencapsulated (FCM) fuel concepts, Int. J. of Cer. Eng. Sci. (2019)

C. Ang, C. Kemery, Y. Katoh, Electroplating chromium on CVD SiC and SiCf-SiC advanced cladding via PyC compatibility coating, J. Nucl. Mater. (2018)

C. Ang, C.M. Parish, C. Shih, C. Silva, Y. Katoh, Microstructure and mechanical properties of titanium aluminum carbides neutron irradiated at 400–700°C, J. Eur. Ceram. Soc (2017)

C. Ang, C. Silva, C. Shih, T. Koyanagi, Y. Katoh, S.J. Zinkle, Anisotropic swelling and microcracking of neutron irradiated Ti 3 AlC 2–Ti 5 Al 2 C 3 materials, Scr. Mater. (2016)

C.K. Ang, J.K. Thomson, J.O. Kiggans Jr, C. Kemery, Y. Katoh, K.A. Terrani, Development of Environmental Barrier Coatings for operational conditions of SiC cladding in Light Water Reactors, Trans. Amer. Nucl. Soc. (2015)

C. Ang, T. Williams, D. Vowles, C. Wood, A. Seeber, Y.-B. Cheng, Influence of sol–gel derived ZrO2 and ZrC additions on microstructure and properties of ZrB2 composites, J. Eur. Ceram. Soc. (2014)

C. Ang, T. Williams, A. Seeber, H. Wang, Y.B. Cheng, Synthesis and evolution of zirconium carbide via sol–gel route: features of nanoparticle oxide–carbon reactions, J. Am. Ceram. Soc. (2013)

Caen Ang

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