Author: Conner Allen
A diverse group of individuals standing in front of a table with a sign.
Ruku Borah (left), accompanied by Shane Arlington, Megan Bokhoor, Michael Flickinger, and Tim Weihs (second from left to right).

Preetom (Ruku) Borah, a PhD candidate in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, earned a Student Presentation Award for his lecture in the Advances in Reactive Materials Engineering Symposium at the 2023 Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting & Exhibit, held in Boston, Massachusetts in late November. 

Borah works in the lab of Tim Weihs, a professor of materials science and engineering and director of the Materials Science in Extreme Environments University Research Alliance (MSEE URA), where he focuses on approaches to counteracting chemical warfare agents (CWAs). 

Borah’s winning presentation described key findings from experiments with diisopropyl methyl phosphonate (DIMP), a gas simulant. In one study, he ignited a combination of metallic powders to diffuse the effects of DIMP. He found that by controlling the combustion of these powders in the presence of DIMP vapor, the simulant showed signs of decomposition, suggesting neutralization of the gas. The signs of neutralization point toward the possibility of alternate ways to diffuse chemical agents, he said. 

Next, Borah plans to identify ways to control the decomposition of DIMP using various mixtures of aluminum, magnesium, and zirconium.  

“The goal going forward is to see, now that we’ve demonstrated the capability to neutralize DIMP with one chemistry, how can we tune that decomposition?” says Borah. “The next step is to test multiple chemistries, seeing what’s going to improve or detract from that decomposition.”