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Materials Mechanics

Hybrid Materials Systems


Nanoporous gold structure under the scanning electron microscope.

Applications of advanced, high added-value materials increasingly emphasise the combination of strength with functionality. Examples are light structural materials incorporating functionality such as sensing, actuation, or self healing. As a closely related issue, mechanical stress or strain and chemical or electrochemical phenomena are simultaneously relevant and closely coupled in modern energy storage materials. The Institute of Materials Mechanics’ Hybrid Materials Systems Group explores design strategies aimed at combining such very different phenomena into integrated materials concepts.

The approach towards hybrid structural and functional materials rests on two principles:

  • the impact of interfacial phenomena is maximised by working with nanomaterials with an extremely large surface area
  • the material is designed as a composite in which the combination of the components affords control over the interfacial behaviour through external signals

For instance, a network of fluid electrolyte veins in a porous metal can transport ions and allow the interfaces to be polarised, modifying their mechanical, electrical, or optical properties. Hybrid materials here combine two very different components – such as a low viscosity fluid and a high strength metal skeleton structure – to achieve new functional behaviour.



View into the interior of a system for the production of thin films. Via discharge currents within the plasma, which are triggered by an electric field, individual metal atoms are released from the metal plate, which emerge as vapour from the cathode atomiser and are deposited as a film on the substrate attached at the top. © SFB 986

Research interests and approaches in the Hybrid Materials Systems Group focus on synthesis, characterisation, and modelling of nanostructured metallic materials. Of particular interest is the role of surfaces or interfaces – such as grain boundaries, free surfaces or metal-electrolyte interfaces – in controlling the overall macroscopic materials behaviour and the microstructural evolution or stability. Research subjects in that context include the mechanics, thermodynamics and electrochemistry of interfaces and of interface controlled materials, mechanical behaviour and deformation mechanisms in nanoscale materials, and characterisation by scattering techniques.

The Hybrid Materials Systems group cooperates closely with the Institute of Materials Physics and Technology at Hamburg University of Technology. To know more about the Institute of Materials Physics and Technology at Hamburg University of Technology click here