NIST logo

Zachary T. Trautt

Research Interests
  • Interfacial Thermodynamics and Kinetics
  • Mechanical Properties of Nanostructures
Active Projects
  • Concurrent Experiments and Simulations of Zinc Oxide Nanowires—As part of NIST's response to the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI), this project seeks to unite contact-resonance atomic force microscopy and molecular dynamics simulation, which are capable of overlapping length scales. This union will improve model validity and fundamental understanding of material phenomena.
  • Atomistic Potentials and the Future of Nanomaterials Metrology—As part of NIST's response to the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI), this project provides resources to address some of the challenges to the wider use of quantitative classical atomistic simulations (e.g. molecular dynamics or Monte-Carlo).
Related Programs and Projects
  • The Materials Genome Initiative at NIST—Today, the discovery and optimization of new materials for innovative products is a time-consuming and laborious process, as much a craft practiced by skilled artisans as a science. Expensive trial-and-error-based experimentation is a highly inefficient way to screen potential candidates for a desired new application.
  • Coevolved Experimentation and Computation at the Nanoscale—The increased speed and increased size of datasets implemented in modern computational systems has enabled the size scale of models of materials to be increased significantly. In parallel, the increased precision of modern experimental systems has enabled the size scale of measurements of properties of materials to be decreased significantly. Hence, at the nanoscale it is now possible to make direct comparison of experimentally determined and computationally predicted properties for the same structure. The goal of the co-evolved experimentation and computation projects is to provide validation of computational models of materials properties by direct comparison of predicted and measured properties at the same length scale.
  • Scientific Workflow—The ubiquity of computers has profoundly influenced science. Sophisticated software tools and easy access to high-performance computing promises to be a continuing source of technological advancement. In the arena of materials science, modeling capabilities have improved dramatically in recent years, leading to what will ultimately be a paradigm of “materials by design.”
Selected Publications Prior to Joining NIST
  • Z.T. Trautt, M. Upmanyu, and A. Karma. Interface mobility from interface random walk. Science, 314(5799):632–635, 2006.[DOI: 10.1126/science.1131988]
  • A. Karma, Z.T. Trautt, and Y. Mishin. Relationship between equilibrium fluctuations and shear-coupled motion of grain boundaries. Physical Review Letters, 109(9), 2012. [DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.095501]
  • Z.T. Trautt, A. Adland, A. Karma, and Y. Mishin. Coupled motion of asymmetrical tilt grain boundaries: Molecular dynamics and phase field crystal simulations. Acta Materialia, 60(19):6528–6546, 2012. [DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2012.08.018]
  • Z.T. Trautt and Y. Mishin. Grain boundary migration and grain rotation studied by molecular dynamics. Acta Materialia, 60(5):2407–2424, 2012. [DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2012.01.008]


NIST Associate
Materials Measurement Science Division
Nanomechanical Properties Group

Employment History:

2012 - Present: NIST Associate
Nanomechanical Properties Group
Gaithersburg, MD

2009 - 2012: Research Assistant Professor
School of Physics, Astronomy, and Computational Sciences
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA


Ph.D. - Engineering Systems (Mechanical Specialty)
Minor - Materials Science
Colorado School of Mines - 2009

M.S. - Engineering Systems
Colorado School of Mines - 2006

B.S. - Engineering Physics
Colorado School of Mines - 2004


Phone: 301-975-4539