Elizabeth Kautz

Assistant Professor of Nuclear Engineering, Joint Faculty Appointment with PNNL

  • Burlington Laboratory 2156

Dr. Elizabeth Kautz received her B.S. in Materials Engineering in 2010 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY. From 2010-2014 she worked at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL), also known as Naval Nuclear Laboratory, in Niskayuna, NY in a rotational program where she held positions in both materials development and fleet support organizations. In this program, she spent time at a naval shipyard, and the Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory. While at KAPL, she earned her M.S. part-time from RPI in 2014 in Materials Engineering. She then returned to graduate school full-time in 2014, receiving her Ph.D. in Materials Engineering from RPI in 2018. From 2017-2018, she was a Ph.D. Intern at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA. After graduation, she was a post doctoral researcher in the National Security Directorate at PNNL from 2018-2020, and a staff scientist in the Energy and Environment Directorate from 2020-2022 prior to joining the NC State faculty. Dr. Kautz holds a joint appointment with PNNL.

Dr. Kautz has contributed to several programs at PNNL funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and the Department of Energy (DOE) – Basic Energy Science (BES). She has served (and is currently serving) as a PI for projects funded by the Tritium Modernization Program (NNSA) in which she has investigated topics including: detection of hydrogen and lithium isotopes in metallic and ceramic substrates using laser ablation-optical emission spectroscopy, and hydride formation in Zr-based alloys.

Dr. Kautz has worked with and mentored several graduate and undergraduate students during her career, including participants of DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) and Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) programs.


Ph.D 2018

Materials Engineering

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

M.S 2014

Materials Engineering

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

B.S 2010

Materials Engineering

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Research Description

Dr. Kautz studies laser produced plasmas and materials relevant to nuclear energy, defense, forensics, and non-proliferation applications. She studies laser-material interaction, hydrodynamics and chemistry evolution in laser produced plasmas, and materials degradation phenomena in order to develop an understanding of how unique material signatures can be linked to process history and origin.


Detection of tritium using ultrafast laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy
Harilal, S. S., Shaik, A. K., Kautz, E. J., Devaraj, A., Casella, A. M., & Senor, D. J. (2024, February 5), JOURNAL OF ANALYTICAL ATOMIC SPECTROMETRY, Vol. 2. https://doi.org/10.1039/D3JA00439B
Enhancing analytical merits of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy of hydrogen isotopes using an orthogonal double-pulsing scheme
Kautz, E. J., Polek, M. P., Ronnebro, E. C. E., & Harilal, S. S. (2024), SPECTROCHIMICA ACTA PART B-ATOMIC SPECTROSCOPY, 217. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sab.2024.106952
Mechanistic understanding of speciated oxide growth in high entropy alloys
Gwalani, B., Martin, A., Kautz, E., Guo, B., Lambeets, S. V., Olszta, M., … Arun, D. (2024), NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-024-49243-8
Comparing the kinetics of ionized and neutral atoms from single and multi-element laser-produced plasmas
Kautz, E. J. J., Phillips, M. C. C., Diwakar, P. K. K., Zelenyuk, A., & Harilal, S. S. S. (2023), PHYSICS OF PLASMAS, 30(5). https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0146958
Comparison of excitation and kinetic temperatures in a laser-produced plasma using absorption spectroscopy
Phillips, M. c., Kautz, E. j., & Harilal, S. s. (2023), OPTICS LETTERS, 48(7), 1942–1945. https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.487910
Experimental and theoretical comparison of ion properties from nanosecond laser-produced plasmas of metal targets
Polek, M. P., Kautz, E. J., Ahmed, T., Kowash, B. R., Beg, F. N., & Harilal, S. S. (2023), Journal of Applied Physics. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0146428
Impact of environmental oxygen on nanoparticle formation and agglomeration in aluminum laser ablation plumes
Kautz, E. J., Zelenyuk, A., Gwalani, B., Olszta, M. J., Phillips, M. C., Manard, M. J., … Harilal, S. S. (2023), JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 159(17). https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0167400
Influence of ambient gas on self-reversal in Li transitions relevant to isotopic analysis
Kautz, E. J., Xu, A., Harilal, A. V., Polek, M. P., Casella, A. M., Senor, D. J., & Harilal, S. S. (2023), Optics Express. https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.477990
Influence of processing on secondary phase formation and microstructural evolution at U-10Mo alloy and Zr interlayer interfaces
Kautz, E. J., Song, M., Riechers, S., Koziol, A., Briggs, S. A., Yano, K., … Devaraj, A. (2023), JOURNAL OF ALLOYS AND COMPOUNDS, 969. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jallcom.2023.172074
Investigating zirconium alloy corrosion with advanced experimental techniques: A review
Kautz, E., Gwalani, B., Yu, Z., Varga, T., Geelhood, K., Devaraj, A., & Senor, D. (2023). [Review of , ]. JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS, 585. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnucmat.2023.154586

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Joint Faculty Appointment between Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and NC State University for Dr. Elizabeth Kautz
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory(1/03/23 - 12/31/24)