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Nano-/ Micromechanics of Materials

The scientific mission of the Nano-/Micromechanics of Materials group is to extract mechanical properties of materials at the microstructural length scale and link the mechanical response with the initial and evolving defect structure. The primary focus therefore lies on the deformation response of individual single crystals, bi-crystals or selected interfaces – where metallic thin-film systems are of particular interest.

To meet these aims, state-of-the-art methods such as focussed ion beam milling and in situ scanning electron microscopy (SEM) are required based on the requisite sample dimensions of <10 µm. The group oversees cutting-edge dual-beam electron microscopy infrastructure, combined with a suite of in situ characterisation equipment allowing for highly resolved measurement of mechanical and also electrical properties.

Room temperature quasi-static mechanical tests are complimented by both high (800°C) and low (-150°C) temperature modules, along with high strain rate testing capabilities, which allow for detailed investigations of material behaviour under a range of environmental conditions. Insights into deformation, such as local fracture mechanics or dislocation plasticity, are then enriched through complimentary advanced characterisation of structure and chemistry by colleagues at the MPIE. The role of local chemistry on the functional properties of materials is a growing theme in the group, with links to alloy design, corrosion and additive manufacturing.

A broad spectrum of materials systems are under ongoing study; from advanced steels, tungsten alloys, to engineering oxides, topologically close packed intermetallic phases, or amorphous alloys. Materials are either produced at MPIE using, for example, our physical vapour deposition cluster for metallic thin-films, or through our tight global network of processing groups at academic institutions and industry partners.

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