Lighter, stronger, and safer materials
Advanced materials (ceramics, metals, polymers) with a combination of low density and high strength thanks to their novel cellular or layered microstructure
Research Area E Engineering of Lightweight Materials focuses on improving the properties of load-bearing materials by introduction of two types of new microstructures. The properties in question are e.g. weight, tensile strength, creep strength, toughness.
- Cellular Structures: Such microstructures have been used in metals, ceramics, and polymers for several years in order to reduce weight, to increase strength and stiffness, or to enhance energy absorption and damping capability. Traditionally, cell sizes are fairly large and the cell size distribution is rather heterogeneous. New technologies are being developed in Research Area E that are able to reduce the cell size significantly. Apart from finer cell sizes completely new cell architectures are investigated as in auxetic foams (cell geometries that lead to negative Poisson’s ratio) and hierarchical foams (cellular primary skeleton filled with secondary microcellular foam).
- Layered Materials: In this novel approach, bulk material is being fabricated from very thin layers. Typical layer thickness is 10 µm or less. Depending on the fabrication process, the grain sizes in such materials can be extremely small with ensuing positive effects on strength and ductility. The approach can also be used to fabricate composites with superior strength and stiffness. At the moment the focus lies on accumulated roll bonding as a way to fabricate layered materials.