Microstructure and Properties

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. Our research deals with resolving the interplay of microstructure components and material properties and to establish quantitative relationships based on length-scale bridging experiments and simulations: - Tuning stacking fault energy and/or electronic structure of materials to enhance strength and also toughness (steels, HEA/CCA alloys, metallic glasses) - Phase transformations of grain boundaries and dislocations and their impact on transport properties (pure metals, alloys, intermetallic materials, phase diagrams and defect phase diagrams) - Microstructure design for functional materials (thermoelectrics, photovoltaics, magnetic materials, …) - Traps for hydrogen to prevent embrittlement and enable materials for hydrogen economy (steels, alloys, barrier coatings, hydrides) - Experimental and computational tools to resolve microstructure details and properties with high spatial resolution
Multiscale investigation of impact mitigation strategies: Biomimicking muskox head

Biological materials in nature have a lot to teach us when in comes to creating tough bio-inspired designs. This project aims to explore the unknown impact mitigation mechanisms of the muskox head (ovibus moschatus) at several length scales and use this gained knowledge to develop a novel mesoscale (10 µm to 1000 µm) metamaterial that can mimic the high energy absorption characteristics of the muskox head without failure between strain rates of 0.001/s and 1000/s. more

The structure of planar defects and defect phases in Laves phase alloys and their influence on hydrogen storage properties

The atomic arrangements in extended planar defects in different types of Laves phases is studied by high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy. To understand the role of such defect phases for hydrogen storage, their interaction with hydrogen will be investigated. more

Unraveling the causes of the unusual mechanical behavior of B2 FeAl

Adding 30 to 50 at.% aluminum to iron results in single-phase alloys with an ordered bcc-based crystal structure, so-called B2-ordered FeAl. Within the extended composition range of this intermetallic phase, the mechanical behavior varies in a very particular way. more

Nano- and microscale plasticity

The key to the design and construction of advanced materials with tailored mechanical properties is nano- and micro-scale plasticity. Significant influence also exists in shaping the mechanical behavior of materials on small length scales. more

Interfaces in energy materials

The full potential of energy materials can only be exploited if the interplay between mechanics and chemistry at the interfaces is well known. This leads to more sustainable and efficient energy solutions. more

Fracture at interfaces

The focus lies on the investigation of the fracture properties of materials down to the individual microstructural length scale, with special attention on grain/phase boundaries or material interfaces, while considering the role of crystallography, chemistry and non-ambient conditions such as high temperatures and cryogenic conditions on fracture. more

Seeing light elements in a grain boundary

A further step in unravelling materials’ properties down to the atomic scale more

This project aims to investigate the influence of grain boundaries on mechanical behavior at ultra-high strain rates and low temperatures. more


In this EU Horizon project, we at MPIE, will focus on the sustainable pre-reduction of manganese ores with hydrogen, especially the kinetic analysis of the reduction process using thermogravimetry analysis and an in-depth understand the role of microstructure and local chemistry in the reduction process.

Towards defect engineering: identifying universal structures on the atomic scale

Researchers of the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung publish their latest findings in the journal Physical Review B more

Sustainable, ultra-strong and ductile steel through advanced processing

International researcher team presents a novel microstructure design strategy for lean medium-manganese steels with optimized properties in the journal Science more

2D MXenes guided by 3D Atomic-Resolution Tomography

In order to develop more efficient catalysts for energy conversion, the relationship between the surface composition of MXene-based electrode materials and its behavior has to be understood in operando. Our group will demonstrate how APT combined with scanning photoemission electron microscopy can advance the understanding of complex relationships between surface structure, surface oxidation state, surface composition and sub-surface regions, and performance of 2D materials.

Better magnets for green energy

Researchers use multicomponent alloys to make strong and ductile soft magnetic materials. Latest results now published in the journal Nature more

Advanced Microstructural Characterization of in situ Alloyed Nickel-Based Alloys by Welding

Nickel-based alloys are a particularly interesting class of materials due to their specific properties such as high-temperature strength, low-temperature ductility and toughness, oxidation resistance, hot-corrosion resistance, and weldability, becoming potential candidates for high-performance components that require corrosion resistance and good mechanical properties. This unparalleled combination of properties is achieved by adding alloying elements and changes in microstructure. This research project blended Ni-based metal welds produced by in situ alloying using the tandem GMAW process in a previous research project developed by the Welding Research and Technology Laboratory team at the Federal University of Ceará, in Brazil.

Tuning soft magnetic properties of nanostructured Fe-Co-Ti-X (X = Si, Ge, Sn) compositionally complex alloys through microstructure engineering

The aim of this project is to develop novel nanostructured Fe-Co-Ti-X (X = Si, Ge, Sn) compositionally complex alloys (CCAs) with adjustable magnetic properties by tailoring microstructure and phase constituents through compositional and process tuning. The key aspect of this work is to build a fundamental understanding of the correlation between microstructure and magnetic properties by length scale bridging characterization and property determination. The ultimate goal is to establish guidelines for designing alloys with high magnetization saturation (Ms) and low coercivity (Hc), to optimize the magnetic properties of CCAs for high frequency magnetic field applications. more

Dynamic mechanical properties of functional ceramic oxides

Within this project, we will investigate the micromechanical properties of STO materials with low and higher content of dislocations at a wide range of strain rates (0.001/s-1000/s). Oxide ceramics have increasing importance as superconductors and their dislocation-based electrical functionalities that will affect these electrical properties. Hence it is fundamental to understand the deformation limits to introduce dislocations for both the fabrication process and in-use performance.

Strain rate, size and defect density interdependence on the deformation of 3D printed microparticles

Statistical significance in materials science is a challenge that has been trying to overcome by miniaturization. However, this process is still limited to 4-5 tests per parameter variance, i.e. Size, orientation, grain size, composition, etc. as the process of fabricating pillars and testing has to be done one by one. With this project, we aim to fabricate arrays of well-defined and located particles that can be tested in an automated manner. With a statistically significant amount of samples tested per parameter variance, we expect to apply more complex statistical models and implement machine learning techniques to analyze this complex problem. more

Local structure-property relationships in laser-processed materials

In this project, links are being established between local chemical variation and the mechanical response of laser-processed metallic alloys and advanced materials.


Correlative orientation (TEM) and compositional mapping (APT) in 3-dimensions with high spatial and chemical resolution

In collaboration with Dr. Edgar Rauch, SIMAP laboratory, Grenoble, and Dr. Wolfgang Ludwig, MATEIS, INSA Lyon, we are developing a correlative scanning precession electron diffraction and atom probe tomography method to access the three-dimensional (3D) crystallographic character and compositional information of nanomaterials with unprecedented spatial and chemical resolution. more

Hydrogen-associated decohesion and localized plasticity in a high-Mn two-phase lightweight steel

Hydrogen embrittlement (HE) is one of the most dangerous embrittlement problems in metallic materials and  advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) are particularly prone to HE with the presence of only a few parts-per-million of H. However, the HE mechanisms in these materials remain elusive, especially for the lightweight steels where the composition and microstructure significantly differ from the traditional plain-carbon steels. Here we focus on a high-Mn and high-Al lightweight steel and unravel the effects of H-associated decohesion and localized plasticity on its H-induced catastrophic failure.


Show more
Go to Editor View