Bild © Foto: Martin Braun

Vision: Quantum mechanically guided materials design

Goal: To contribute towards the basic understanding required to realize the synthesis and application of tailor-made multi-functional materials with chemical and mechanical wear resistance. The focus is on understanding the correlation between synthesis conditions and the structure and chemistry evolution, for designing elasticity and phase stability. Targeted application fields are, besides metal cutting and tribological contacts, also energy conversion and bio materials.

Strategy and Methods: The research strategy is to employ in situ structure, chemistry and energy probes during plasma condensation to gain understanding of the correlation between the synthesis conditions and the structure and chemistry evolution. Ex situ techniques are employed for complementary structure and chemical analysis as well as for the characterization of the film properties. Computational tools based on ab-initio methods provide a description of phase stabilities and elastic properties.

Through a combination of theory and experiment we seek to understand the chemistry of material-plasma interactions and to contribute towards the scientific basis that will allow for designing materials with respect to phase stability and elastic properties. Thin film combinatorics is employed to address the challenges posed above: By co-deposition from multiple plasma sources we produce thin films with concentration gradients which are then spatially resolved analyzed with respect to composition, structure, elastic properties, and phase stability. This approach can be viewed as “targeted materials screening”.

Key Research Areas

Research at the Materials Chemistry group of Professor Jochen M. Schneider, Ph. D.  focuses on quantum-mechanically guided materials design for the following application fields:

A) Energy conversion

  • Nanolaminates

These materials exhibit a very interesting property profile that unites metallic and ceramic properties.

  • Self-healing materials

Exploring materials with the capability of autonomous damage management  for interference-free energy conversion.

  • Metallic glasses

Metallic alloys without a long-range order exhibit a high potential for yet unrivaled profiles of hardness, strength, ductility, and soft magnetic properties.

  • Oxide thermoelectrics

These materials allow for direct conversion of heat into electric energy.

B) Forming and cutting operations

  • Exploration of low-temperature synthesis routes for alpha-alumina hard coatings for forming and cutting tools as well as in situ formation of solid lubricants in tribologic contact.