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J.L. McNichols Collection

Identifier: MC-22
Research papers, photographs, correspondence, and other documents and artifacts pertaining to the career of J.L. McNichols.


  • 1965 - 2005


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research in the Archives & Special Collections reading room. Handling guidelines and use restrictions will be communicated and enforced by archives staff members.

Conditions Governing Use

This material may be protected under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) which governs the making of photocopies or reproductions of copyrighted materials. You may use the digitized material for private study, scholarship, or research. Though the University of Alabama in Huntsville Archives and Special Collections has physical ownership of the material in its collections, in some cases we may not own the copyright to the material. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in our collections.


5 Linear Feet (5 boxes.)

Biographical / Historical

Joseph L. McNichols earned a B.S. in Physics from Long Beach State College in California in 1958, and that same year he joined the Douglas Aircraft Company, which would become the McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company. McNichols earned his Ph.D. in Physics in from the University of Kansas in 1963. McNichols wrote many scientific reports and papers on a variety of subjects over his career.

McNichols was “part of a group that actively pursued development of a shape memory alloy heat engine for low grade thermal energy conversion.” They specifically researched and tested Nitinol, writing extensively about their results. McNichols himself wrote a good many papers and letters for various purposes about the metal. “Under a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy,” they created a Nitinol engine capable of producing “35 watts of power.” After this success, they then turned to commercial applications for “Nitinol technology.”

McNichols also worked on several other projects, including those focused on “nuclear radiation effects on materials and components (e.g., semiconductors, optical detectors/sensors),” “natural orbital environmental interactions with droplet layers (liquid droplet radiator, the LDR Development program),” and “the effects of environmental interactions on optical discriminants for spacecraft (the Optical Discrimination Effects (ODE) program).”

As of 1988, McNichols had “30 years of experience with the physics of environmental interactions with material/systems.”


The contents of the UAH J.L. McNichols Collection

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of James B. Blackmon, 2005.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, and competing priorities. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections as they are acquired and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.



Torey Badar
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama in Huntsville Archives & Special Collections Repository

M. Louis Salmon Library
301 Sparkman Drive
Huntsville, AL 35899 Alabama 35899 United States of America