The interplay of microstructure
is at the core of materials science and engineering and is key to design optimized – often multifunctional - materials. Fracture toughness, strength, ductility, thermal conductivity, thermal stability, corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity, magnetic coercivity, and magnetic hysteresis are prominent examples of material properties, which we tailor by the extrinsic and intrinsic “architecture” of materials
. In contrast to ideal single crystals, advanced materials typically contain a complex microstructure. Examples of microstructure elements are stable or metastable phases (their alignment can be manipulated by synthesis and subsequent thermo-mechanical treatments), texture, stacking faults, interfaces (with and without enrichment of alloying additions), dislocations, and point defects; in addition, these “imperfections” contain themselves defects of lower dimensionality and can undergo phase transformations.