Product-Oriented Materials Development

(Produktorientierte Werkstoffentwicklung)

Coordinators:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Karl Schulte

Associate Members:

  • Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Volker Abetz, University of Kiel*
  • Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Andreas Schreyer, University of Hamburg*

* Appointed jointly with the Helmholtz Research Center, Geesthacht

Summary:

Applied materials development is one of the most important driving forces of the enormous innovative potential of Germany’s science landscape. Materials developments envisioned at the TUHH’s Product-Oriented Materials Development research center will contribute inter alia to improved and intelligent components that play a part in environmental protection and boost profitability.

To put it pointedly, one might say it was the idea of using materials systematically that made humankind an intelligent species. From the use of natural materials such as wood, stone or animal hide via the first systematic steel alloys in the industrial revolution to the modern high-temperature materials that are used in aircraft engines and gas turbines, without materials innovation there would have been no scientific progress. The economic performance of today’s leading industrial countries is to a great extend based on the production and processing of modern materials.

That is why materials technology is classified as an interdisciplinary technology and enjoys special funding status in the Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s HighTech Strategy for Germany. The aim of the Product-Oriented Materials Development research center is to bundle existingt materials research competences at the TUHH and network them with engineering design and production and process engineering. This is to lead to synergies that contribute toward the development of innovative concepts for marketable products based on new materials.

To take this application-oriented basic research forward into product development as swiftly as possible, the research center includes in its activities the competences and technologies of non-university research facilities, especially the Helmholtz-Center Geesthacht and DESY research centers, and other industrial cooperation partners. This collaboration aims to ensure that as much of the alloy or materials development value chain as possible finds its way into product manufacture. The research center thereby seeks to create an efficient platform for new product developments and cooperation arrangements with other university and non-university research institutions.

Starting with current research projects at the research center’s participating TUHH institutes, work is to focus on high-throughput and knowledge-based materials development methods, materials, process and component modeling, multifunctional materials, component design using high-performance materials, and novel lightweight materials. A wide range of activities is already under way in the lastnamed area, with a focus on developing novel, extraordinarily damage-tolerant lightweight materials with integrated sensors and actuators.

Materials of this kind have built-in functions that enable them to undertake their own health monitoring. This new concepts exceed the previous confines of materials production. Three research groups at the research center are already looking into multiple aspects of this new class of materials. One is developing novel ceramic-metal polymer composites with a very low polymer content for use as an “adhesive” between ceramic and metallic particles. The inspiration for this new material comes from nature. Hard tissue such as tooth enamel or mother of pearl is very hard and firm even though soft proteins and water create connecting bridges. Other research deals with new, very long-lasting plastic composites that will make a contribution toward environmental protection. Carbon nanotubes are incorporated in the plastic matrix to stop cracks from developing, thereby greatly prolonging the service life of components made of the material and enabling windfarms and aircraft to continue in use for longer periods. The thermal and electrical properties of the polymer composites are also improved.

Further projects lead to novel materials systems with mechanical stability and low heat conductivity at high temperatures. They are to achieve this by reflecting heat radiation and thereby reducing the heating of a component effectively – and prolonging its service life. With its wide-ranging activities the Product-Oriented Materials Development research center thus makes an active contribution toward maintaining and increasing the innovation capability of the science landscape in Germany.