Rich is developing a highly accurate process for studying thermophysical properties of materials in both the molten and solid states through the use of electrostatic levitation. Electrostatic levitation is a containerless technique allowing a material sample to be studied without it ever having direct contact with external surfaces. This method removes sources of contamination that may affect property measurements, and also allows the samples to be undercooled below their freezing points. Therefore, a wider range of temperatures are accessible in the liquid state for thermophysical properties to be measured, and also metastable phases can be accessed.
Rich has developed a computer program to analyze video and perform volume measurements for containerless processing which is used to measure the density of alloys with great precision.
Diagram of the electrostatic levitator at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Huntsville, Alabama.
Rich studied the undercooled liquid region of quasicrystal melts.