The department was founded as part of the Faculty of Engineering in 1966 and consists of nine chairs with 18 full-time professors and approximately 170 research staff. It thus occupies an outstanding position in its technical range, both nationally and internationally.
The department covers the entire range of materials science research. It is unique to the Department that there are chairs for the most important material classes. In addition, both science-oriented research as well as the engineering-scientific side of materials technology are represented.
The following focuses are a small selection of the department’s fields of activities.
New Materials and Processes
Based on multi-scale correlation of microstructure and properties, advanced materials are explored, which play a key role in addressing global challenges in the fields of mobility, communication, energy supply, health, and safety.
The focus is on high-temperature-resistant metallic and ceramic materials, cellular light-weight materials, functional polymer composites, solution-processed semiconductors, nanostructured surfaces, and coating materials with special catalytic, electronic, and optical properties, as well as bioactive materials. Increasing research activities address exciting questions in the areas of novel metamaterials distinguished by unique periodic superstructures and with acoustic, optical, or electronic bandgap behaviour, adaptive materials with stimulated responsive property changes, as well as scale-bridging self-organization processes inspired by nature.
New processes for the controlled evolution of nanoscale and hierarchical microstructures via physical and chemical deposition processes from the gas and liquid phase as well as generative production processes are being researched in order to develop materials with new property combinations and increased performance. High-throughput methods combined with combinatorial material development strategies and additive manufacturing open up unprecedented possibilities for new processes and materials that meet the requirements of the industry of tomorrow. Resource and energy efficiency as well as sustainability over the entire material cycle are given special attention.
The department has excellent experimental equipment for the production, processing and testing of material samples up to component parts. A wide range of state-of-the-art methods, including high-resolution electron microscopy, atomic probe microscopy and large-chamber scanning electron microscopy with integrated mechanical test equipment, are available for the analysis of the material structure. The experimental and analytical equipment is supplemented by modern modeling and simulation methods, which cover multi-scale computer-assisted processes and molecular dynamic approaches from continuum mechanical FE procedures up to physical and mechanistic modelling approaches.
Multiscale modeling and characterization
Macroscopic material properties are determined on the one hand by the interatomic bonds and the atomic structure and on the other hand by the microstructure and defects, which are characteristic for the processing history of the material. Understanding and tailoring material properties therefore requires the modelling and characterization of materials at all length scales. The Department of Materials Science has a special focus on the development of innovative characterization and modelling methods and their application to a wide range of structural and functional materials.
On the smallest length scales, multiple high-resolution microscopy and characterization techniques allow insights into the atomic and electronic structure as well as the material properties. Researchers have access to one of the world’s most advanced double aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope, as well as to a powerful 3D atom probe for atomic-scale structural and chemical analysis. The so-obtained results can be directly compared with density functional calculations and atomistic simulations. Another focus lies on the scale-bridging 3D characterization of materials by complementary tomography methods. Special emphasis is put on the determination of structure-property relationships by means of in situ microscopy and testing methods. In situ methods allow to test materials at the nano- or microscale and to directly monitor their response. The material response can in parallel be modelled with problem-adapted mesoscale approaches.
The insights gained on small length scales are used to improve continuum models to simulate the material behaviour at the component scale, e.g., with finite element methods. At the macroscale, the department has a wide range of modern testing methods at its disposal.
High-performance materials for mobility, energy, and life sciences
Improving the performance of existing materials and the development of new materials is essential to solve future challenges in the areas of mobility, energy, and life science.
New materials and technologies play a key role in saving resources through weight reduction, making the generation and storage of renewable energy more efficient, or taking new paths in medical implant technology.
The development of the materials takes place simultaneously to the development of the respective production and manufacturing processes, which decisively determine the resulting material and component properties. Accordingly, new processes always provide the potential for the development of new materials. On the one hand, the focus is on extremely light or temperature-resistant construction materials realized by innovative alloys or composite material concepts. On the other hand, new electronic and semiconducting functional materials for photovoltaics and energy storage are being investigated, in which the atomistic and molecular material design on the nanoscale is crucial. An increasingly important role is played by innovative processes such as additive production combined with 3d and 4d digital print methods, large-scale processing of nanostructured films with self-assembled microstructures, combinatorial high throughput research, printing and coating of solar cells and other electronic components, but also the development of high-performance components for aircraft engines or implants.
Cluster of Excellence Engineering of Advanced Materials
The Department of Materials Science is strongly involved in the Cluster of Excellence Engineering of Advanced Materials (EAM).
The latter is an interdisciplinary research group at the FAU, which has been funded by the DFG since 2007 as part of the Excellence Initiative and is active in all three research focusses of the Department of Materials Science.
In the cluster, more than 200 scientists from 9 different disciplines (applied mathematics, chemistry and biology engineering, chemistry, informatics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science and medicine) work together from basic to application-oriented research.
Bridging the gap between molecular material design and the production and application of macroscopic components requires new approaches for process and production techniques, for the simulation and modeling of complex processes as well as for structural, property and process analysis. Starting from a uniform methodological approach, the scientists work on four material areas: nanoelectronics, optics and photonics, catalysis and lightweight construction.