Selective Laser Melting_@Philipp Kürnsteiner

Interdisciplinary Research Key Topics

We analyse materials down to their atomic and electronic scale to unravel the correlation between their microstructure and properties. This comprehension empowers us to engineer sustainable and smart materials capable of enduring extreme operational environments. Employing state-of-the-art microscopy methods and computer simulations, we push the boundaries of material science. Our four departments collaborate with each other as well as with global partners to tackle the following pivotal research areas.

Shaping our future in terms of sustainable technologies, new materials and industrial processes is one of the most important topics of our generation and we are in need of scientific and engineering answers. How can we avoid the use of carbon as energy and reductant carrier in the entire field of materials science and engineering? How can we make better and rare-earth free permanent magnets for electrical vehicles? How can we render alloys sustainable and improve recycling rates? Which are the novel materials that can withstand embrit­tlement caused by hydrogen? And what is the potential of new thermoelectric and so­lar cell absorber materials for green power generation? We have devoted our efforts to provide answers to these pressing ques­tions, showing you here some of our cur­rent research in the field of sustainability. [more]
The design of new materials, microstructures and manufacturing processes has over millennia been based on trial-and-error. The knowledge acquired through random discoveries, systematic experiments, and transfer from neighbouring scientific disciplines produced many empirical rules and later predictive theories. Combined with computer simulations, they have today matured into a backbone position of materials science, enabling the community to discover and improve advanced materials and processes on the basis of detailed understanding. This classical ‘intelligent design’ approach is currently being challenged and partly dissolved by the increasing use of advanced statistical analysis and artificial intelligence applied to large data sets. Indeed, not only the automatization of material production and testing, but also the rapid evolution of advanced characterization and material simulations dramatically increase the volume of relevant information collected by our researchers. But different from the dragons in the ancient tales, who were satisfied with guarding the treasures they had collected, we aim at turning this treasure into scientific progress with the help of advanced data analysis and artificial intelligence. [more]
Advanced materials have been key enablers of technological progress over thousands of years, lending entire ages their name. The accelerated demand for both, load-bearing and functional materials in key sectors such as energy, sustainability, construction, health, communication, infrastructure, safety and transportation is resulting in predicted production growth rates of up to 200 per cent until 2050 for many material classes. This requires not only to better understand the fundamental relationships between synthesis, manufacturing, basic mechanisms, microstructure and properties but also to discover novel materials that meet both, advanced application challenges under harsh environments. [more]
Material decay under harsh environmental conditions is known through phenomena such as corrosion, stress-corrosion cracking and hydrogen embrittlement - by far the most severe phenomena limiting the longevity and integrity of metal products, destroying about 3.4 % of the global gross domestic product every year, a value translating to 2.5 trillion Euros.
Hence, any progress in corrosion resistance has large effects on the lifespan and safety of products and is thus also the most eminent single factor in improving the sustainability of industrialized civilizations.
Loss of material and system failure due to oxidation accounts for the vast majority of the economic impact of corrosion and is an essential factor in infrastructure costs worldwide. [more]
The interplay of microstructure and properties 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. [more]
The development of novel types of materials and processes that  take upscaling, safety and sustainability into account requires methodologically state-of-the-art and often long-term research projects. They regularly result into the development of innovative tools for experiments, characterization, processing, simulations and machine learning. [more]
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