Ph.D. ​Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991M.S. ​Materials Science and Engineering, University of California Berkeley, 1983B.S. ​Ceramic Engineering, University of Illinois, 1981Research Scientist, ​NASA Glenn Research Center, 1991-2010

"I joined the faculty of UVA Engineering for the opportunities to interact with students in the classroom and lab, to collaborate with faculty in MSE, MAE and SEAS, and to participate in the Rolls-Royce University Technology Center on Advanced Material Systems."

Elizabeth J. Opila, Professor

Our research focuses on materials for use in extreme environments and can be applied to materials for use in aircraft engines, rocket engines, energy conversion technologies, and thermal protection systems.  We first create critical aspects of the use environment in the lab such as high temperatures (up to 2000°C), reactive gases (oxygen, water vapor), and high flow rates ( hundreds of meters per second). We characterize materials before and after exposure using techniques as simple as weight change to sophisticated state-of-the-art microscopies and spectroscopies.  Experiments are linked with theory and computational techniques where possible.  We ask these questions about material behavior:  What reactions occur and why?  How fast do they occur?  Can we predict material lifetimes?  How can we make better materials? 


  • Mercatur Fellow, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Research Training Group, Materials Compounds from Composite Materials for Applications in Extreme Conditions 2020
  • Fellow of the American Ceramic Society 2014
  • Fellow of the Electrochemical Society 2013

Research Interests

  • Corrosion and Electrochemical Sciences and Engineering
  • High Temperature Materials Science and Oxides
  • Advanced materials for transportation applications

In the News

Selected Publications

  • “Hot Corrosion of Shipboard Gas Turbine Blades,” Oxidation of Metals (2020). ABS K.J. Meisner, E.J. Opila
  • “Part I: Theoretical Predictions of Preferential Oxidation in Refractory High Entropy Materials,” Acta Materialia 197, 20-27 (2020). ABS L. Backman, J. Gild, J. Luo, E.J. Opila,
  • “Part II: Experimental Verification of Computationally Predicted Preferential Oxidation in Refractory High Entropy Ultra-High Temperature Ceramics,” Acta Materialia 197, 81-90 (2020). ABS L. Backman, J. Gild, J. Luo, E.J. Opila
  • “Tailoring Thermal Properties of Multi-component Rare Earth Monosilicates,” Acta Materialia 195, 698-707 (2020). ABS M. Ridley, J.T. Gaskins, P.E. Hopkins, E.J. Opila,
  • “Mixed phase ytterbium silicate environmental barrier coating materials for improved CMAS resistance,” Journal of Materials Research 35 [17] 2358-2372 (2020). ABS R. Webster, E.J. Opila,
  • “Thermochemical stability and microstructural evolution of Yb2Si2O7 in high-velocity high-temperature water vapor,” Journal of the European Ceramic Society (2020). ABS M. Ridley, E.J. Opila
  • "Identification of a new oxidation/ dissolution mechanism for boria-accelerated SiC Oxidation,” Journal of the American Ceramic Society 103 [9] 5214-5231 (2020). ABS B. McFarland, V.A. Angelici, M. Morales, E. Opila,
  • “Investigations into the thermal stability of sol-gel derived glasses as models for thermally grown oxides,” Journal of the American Ceramic Society 103 [12]] 7041-55 (2020). ABS B. McFarland, E. Opila
  • “Thermochemical Stability of Y2Si2O7 in High-Temperature Water Vapor, Journal of the American Ceramic Society 103 [8] 4517-35 (2020). ABS R. Golden, K. Mueller, E. Opila
  • Characterization of Thermochemical and Thermomechanical Properties of Eyjafjallajökull Volcanic Ash Glass, Coatings 10 [2] 100 (2020). ABS R.I. Webster, N.P. Bansal, J.A. Salem, E.J. Opila, V.L. Wiesner
  • "Stability of the Y2O3-SiO2 System in High-Temperature, High-Velocity Water Vapor," Journal of the American Ceramic Society (2020). ABS C.G. Parker, E.J. Opila
  • “Thermochemistry of volatile metal hydroxides and oxyhydroxides at elevated temperatures,” Journal of Materials Research, 34 [3] 394-407 (2019). ABS D.L. Myers, N.S. Jacobson, C.W. Bauschlicher, E.J. Opila
  • “Thermodynamic Assessment of the Group IV, V and VI Oxides for the Design of Oxidation Resistant Multi-Principal Component Materials,” Journal of the European Ceramic Society 39, 1796 (2019). ABS L. Backman, E. Opila
  • "The Effect of TiO2 Additions on CaO-MgO-Al2O3-SiO2 (CMAS) Crystallization Behavior from the Melt," Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 102 [6] 3354-3367 (2019). ABS R.I. Webster, E.J. Opila
  • “High Temperature Oxidation of Yttrium Silicides,” Journal of Material Science 53 [6] 3981-4000 (2018). ABS R.A. Golden, E.J. Opila
  • “Oxygen Diffusion Mechanisms During High Temperature Oxidation of ZrB2-SiC,” Journal of the American Ceramic Society 101, 1765-1779 (2018). ABS K.S. Cissel, E. Opila
  • "Silicon Carbide Fiber Oxidation Behavior in the Presence of Boron Nitride,” Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 101 [12), 5534-5551 (2018). ABS B. McFarland, E.J. Opila
  • "Computational and Experimental Study of Thermodynamics of the Reaction of Titania and Water at High Temperatures," Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 121, 9508-9517 (2017). ABS Q. Nguyen, C. Bauschlicher, D. Myers, N. Jacobson, E. Opila
  • “High Temperature Na2SO4 Deposit-Assisted Corrosion of Silicon Carbide – II: Effects of B, C, and Si,” Journal of the American Ceramic Society 100, 761-773 (2017). ABS J.M. Hagan, E.J. Opila
  • “Hafnium nitride films for thermoreflectance transducers at high temperatures: Potential based on heating from laser absorption,” Applied Physics Letters 111, 151902 (2017). ABS C. Rost, J. Braun, K. Ferri, L. Backman, A. Giri, E. Opila, J.-P. Maria, P.E. Hopkins
  • “Sol-gel Derived Borosilicate Glasses and Thin Film Coatings on SiC Substrates: Boron Loss and Carbon Retention due to Processing and Heat Treatment,” Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids 449, 59-69 (2016). ABS B. McFarland, E.J. Opila
  • “Thermodynamics and kinetics of gaseous metal hydroxide formation from oxides relevant to power and propulsion applications,” Calphad 55, 32-40 (2016). ABS E.J. Opila
  • "Borosilicate Glass‐Induced Fiber Degradation of SiC/BN/SiC Composites Exposed in Combustion Environments." International Journal of Applied Ceramic Technology 13 [3] 434-442 (2016). ABS E.J. Opila, R.C. Robinson, M. J. Verrilli.
  • “A Review of SiC Fiber Oxidation with an Oxidation Study of Hi-Nicalon SiC Fibers,” Advanced Engineering Materials, 18 [10] 1698-1709 (2016). ABS M.E. Wilson, E. J. Opila
  • “A Method for Assessing the Volatility of Oxides in High-Temperature High-Velocity Water Vapor,” J. Eur. Cer. Soc. 36, 1135-1147 (2016). ABS R.A. Golden, E.J. Opila
  • “High Temperature Na2SO4 Deposit-Assisted Corrosion of Silicon Carbide – I: Temperature and Time Dependence,” J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 98 [4] 1275-1284 (2015). ABS J.M. Hagan, E.J. Opila
  • “SiC Depletion in ZrB2-30 vol% SiC at Ultra-High Temperatures, J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 98 [5] 1673-1683 (2015). ABS K. Shugart, E. Opila
  • “Determination of Retained B2O3 Content in ZrB2-30 vol% SiC Oxide Scales,” J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 98 [1] 287-295 (2015). ABS K. Shugart, S. Liu, F. Craven, E. Opila
  • “Initial Stages of ZrB2 30vol% SiC Oxidation at 1500°C," J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 97 [5] 1645-51 (2014). ABS K. Shugart, W. Jennings, E. Opila
  • “Mechanisms for Variability of ZrB2 30 vol% SiC Oxidation Kinetics,” J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 97 [7] 2279-85 (2014). ABS K. Shugart, B. Patterson, D. Lichtman, S. Liu, E. Opila
  • “Water Vapor Mediated Volatilization of High Temperature Materials,” Annual Review of Materials Research, 43, 559-88, (2013). ABS P.C. Meschter, E.J. Opila, N.S. Jacobson

Courses Taught

  • MSE 6230, Thermodynamics of Materials
  • MSE 3101, Materials Science Investigations
  • MSE 6592, High Temperature Oxidation
  • MSE 6240, Kinetic Processes in Materials Science