Professor Vecchio is interested in the processing and performance of metallic-intermetallic laminate (MIL) composites for advanced structural applications, including: light-weight armor, aerospace applications and other high performance, weight-critical applications. These new MIL composite materials have been developed with ballistic and structural properties combined for optimal protection and superior performance. He has licensed a production process to make a titanium and titanium aluminide composite material which is much lighter than existing materials used in military vehicles (e.g. steel). Furthermore, these MIL composites are being developed with multi-functionality as an intrinsic part of their design. Some of the multi-functionalities that have already been developed for these MIL composites include: vibration damping, energy absorption, impact sensing, location determination and impact magnitude determination. Technologies for incorporating wear resistant coating has also been developed with this materials processing method. In addition, as part of a separate research program he is developing novel high energy absorbing structural materials and material systems, for applications such as blast mitigation, crash-worthiness, and impact. He has on-going research in many classes of metal alloy development, such as bulk amorphous alloys, nanostructured metals, the development of new oxidation resistant Fe-Ni-Cr alloys for high temperature applications, tungsten heavy alloys and metal matrix composites. Finally, he continues to look to nature to find ways to create lighter and stronger materials, mimicking micro- and meso-structures of abalone and conch shells and other materials found in nature.
Kenneth S. Vecchio received his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Lehigh University in 1988 and joined the faculty at UCSD later that year. He served as Director of the Electron Microscopy Facility in the Jacobs School of Engineering for 10 years. Vecchio received the Irene Payne Award from the Micobeam Analysis Society (MAS) in 1986 and again in 1987. He was also awarded first prize at the Materials Research Center Review Seminar, and received the George P. Conrad II Award from Outstanding Graduate Achievement during the same year. In 2008 he was named chair of the Jacobs School's Department of NanoEngineering.