Scope of the Research Fields

High impact of the research activities on the actual needs and breakthrough in materials science and engineering can be obtained by research and training in the four following key topics:



Advanced bio-, and nano-composites

Exceptional mechanical properties, low density, multifunctional ability, formability and possibility to tailor desired properties for particular applications and service conditions, have strongly increased the use of composites. For example, polymer composites are widely used in aircrafts but also in medical, naval, space, sports, and automotive applications. The need to develop greener, safer and more competitive transport has been recognised as being of critical societal and commercial importance for Europe. The proposed research in composite materials is highly interdisciplinary. It addresses the needs of the wider community for highly-trained personnel, with hands-on experience on state-of-the-art techniques and concepts, in both academia and industry. It also addresses significant issues related to producing environmentally friendly materials using renewable raw materials and a path forward to drift away from our dependence on oil and oil-based products.


High-performance metals

High-performance metals represent the dominant group of structural and functional materials worldwide, with still numerous scientific challenges. Some of the prominent topics to be developed lie in understanding and developing the fundamentals of lightweight structural materials and design solutions, failure-tolerant materials systems, and materials for ground and aerospace transportation. Research will be mainly focused on some key fundamental areas such as: a) Interface science and microstructure design; b) Thermodynamics and kinetics; c) Synthesis and processing; d) Mechanical and functional properties. Doctoral candidates shall make use of novel experimental tools and/or advanced combinations of them, exploiting observation methods that have not yet matured to their full potential (nano-mechanical property characterisation in conjunction with nanoscopic analytical and orientation characterisation; 3D atom probe methods, etc.) and will be further developed in this programme.



Engineered surfaces

Surfaces and interfaces with their environment and are the places where energy is consumed, but also performance and lifetime of devices are defined.  The fast expanding research activities in nanometre structures and miniaturised devices (e.g. based on thin film technologies) further emphasise the demand for novel functionalisation methods to design surface properties. This research new materials for large-scale displays and lighting, novel more efficient cutting tools, new integrated circuit technologies for electronic devices, novel wear-resistant and low-friction surfaces, low-cost sensors, novel catalysts, etc.


    3D Microstructure characterisation in micro, nano, and atomic scales

    3D Analysis of parts and structures down to the micro scale has been applied for many years through the use of X-ray computer tomography. Recent developments have allowed to significantly increase its resolution, nowadays being about 1 µm. Moreover, the use of synchrotron tomography allows the characterisation of materials with a resolution even below 1µm. However, features in the nano scale remain undetectable. In the last ten years, the development of focused ion beam tomography has opened new interesting possibilities for 3D characterisation with a resolution as good as 5 nm, but having a relevant volume up to some tens of µm3. It is exactly at these scales that relevant materials features like grain structure, micro and nano pores, precipitates, and eutectic structures can be found. By using all different contrast known from scanning electron microscopy, almost all aspects of microstructures become visible. Moreover, we can go one step further to analyse materials in 3D even at an atomic scale: atom probe tomography. This technique has matured significantly in the last years, achieving a development degree which renders it deployable for many tasks, including industrial applications like, for instance, the development of aluminium alloys for lighter motor blocks.


      EUSMAT - European School of Materials

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