B.S. ​Ceramic Engineering, University of Illinois, 1981M.S. ​Materials Science and Engineering, University of California Berkeley, 1983Ph.D. ​Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991Research 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? 


  • Fellow of the Electrochemical Society 2013
  • Fellow of the American Ceramic Society 2014

Research Interests

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

Selected Publications

  • "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). DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.7b08614 Q. Nguyen, C. Bauschlicher, D. Myers, N. Jacobson, E. Opila
  • “High Temperature Oxidation of Yttrium Silicides,” Acta Materialia (2017). DOI 10.1007/s10853-017-1823-x R.A. Golden, E.J. Opila
  • “Oxygen Diffusion Mechanisms During High Temperature Oxidation of ZrB2-SiC,” Journal of the American Ceramic Society (2017). DOI: 10.1111/jace.15298 K.S. Cissel, E. Opila
  • “Hafnium nitride films for thermoreflectance transducers at high temperatures: Potential based on heating from laser absorption,” Applied Physics Letters 111, 151902 (2017). C. Rost, J. Braun, K. Ferri, L. Backman, A. Giri, E. Opila, J.-P. Maria, P.E. Hopkins
  • “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). DOI: 10.1111/jace.14596 J.M. Hagan, E.J. Opila
  • “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). 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). E.J. Opila
  • “A Review of SiC Fiber Oxidation with an Oxidation Study of Hi-Nicalon SiC Fibers,” Advanced Engineering Materials, 18 [10] 1698-1709 (2016). DOI: 10.1002/adem.201600166 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). R.A. Golden, 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). DOI:10.1111/ijac.12499 E.J. Opila, R.C. Robinson, M. J. Verrilli.
  • “SiC Depletion in ZrB2-30 vol% SiC at Ultra-High Temperatures, J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 98 [5] 1673-1683 (2015). DOI: 10.1111/jace.12911 K. Shugart, E. Opila
  • “High Temperature Na2SO4 Deposit-Assisted Corrosion of Silicon Carbide – I: Temperature and Time Dependence,” J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 98 [4] 1275-1284 (2015). DOI: 10.1111/jace.13409 J.M. Hagan, E.J. Opila
  • “Determination of Retained B2O3 Content in ZrB2-30 vol% SiC Oxide Scales,” J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 98 [1] 287-295 (2015). DOI: 10.1111/jace.13236 K. Shugart, S. Liu, F. Craven, E. Opila
  • “Mechanisms for Variability of ZrB2 30 vol% SiC Oxidation Kinetics,” J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 97 [7] 2279-85 (2014). DOI: 10.1111/jace.12911 K. Shugart, B. Patterson, D. Lichtman, S. Liu, E. Opila
  • “Initial Stages of ZrB2 30vol% SiC Oxidation at 1500°C," J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 97 [5] 1645-51 (2014). DOI: 10.1111/jace.12843 K. Shugart, W. Jennings, E. Opila
  • “Water Vapor Mediated Volatilization of High Temperature Materials,” Annual Review of Materials Research, 43, 559-88, (2013). 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