rod martens
Nature has produced some amazing materials such as bone and silk and the research developing multiscale and multiphysics models to mimic these biological processes could yield some very interesting materials

Rod Martens is a Principal Engineer within TE Connectivity's (TE's) Materials Science group. He has been with the company for five years and currently focuses on contact interface (Contact Physics), which is at the heart of every separable connector. Rod is a senior member of IEEE and will be chairing IEEE Conference on Electric Contacts 2017/2018. He is also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

1

What is a typical day like for you?

Typically, I’m able to spend about half of my day in the laboratory performing experiments and analyzing data.  The other half tends to be interfacing with my internal and external customers discussing problems and answering questions. 

2

What are you working on right now?

Reduction of precious metals, specifically gold is a big area in the industry right now. Gold is a fantastic material, but since it’s quite expensive, we are looking at ways to reduce the amount we use while retaining or improving the performance of our products.  This involves looking at how all the materials work together in a connector, as well as looking at new materials that could enhance or replace gold in certain applications.

3

What is the most fascinating advancement in materials science to you?

I think the work going on in bio-inspired materials is interesting. Nature has produced some amazing materials, such as bone and silk, and the research developing multiscale and multiphysics models to mimic these biological processes could yield some very interesting materials.  

4

What trends in your area of expertise or in materials science will influence our industry over time?

As we get through the hype curve of carbon-based materials, such as CNT’s and graphene, and start to understand what can be done with them at the mesoscale, I think some interesting things can be done to contact interfaces.

5

What do you enjoy about your work?

I enjoy the fact that the work is multi-disciplinary. TE has significant technical depth in so many distinct areas, and being part of a team that pulls from the different disciplines to solve hard problems is rewarding.