The Chair of Structural and Functional Ceramics is part of the Department of Materials Science. The main research areas of the chair include
- -Mechanical testing of ceramics
- Fractographic damage analysis of ceramic components
- Fracture statistics
- Electroceramic modelling of (electroceramic) systems
- Fabrication of ceramics (new "bio-inspired" materials)
In the field of materials testing, new test methods (e.g. B3B test, notched ball test) are being developed. With the B3B test, for example, it is possible to test the strength of small specimens (dimensions 2 x 2 x 0.1 mm) quickly and easily.
Fractographic analysis are used to correctly interpret the values obtained from strength tests. The reason for this is that ceramics fail due to defects randomly distributed in the volume or on the surface. In order to try to identify these defects (e.g. pores, agglomerates, inclusions, grinding defects), fractography is being used. Fractographic studies are also fundamental for failure analysis of ceramic components.
Since defects are randomly distributed, information regarding their distribution is needed. The results obtained in the strength tests are therefore statistically evaluated. For ceramics, usually the Weibull distribution is used.
In the modelling process, custom software solutions are created for a wide variety of problems. For example, a 3D simulation of a microstructure can be used to calculate the ideal grain size for certain applications.
An example of the development of new materials is the development of high-strength glasses for mobile phone displays (e.g. "Gorilla" glass). Bio-inspired materials are often the solution to many problems. For example, layers with compressive stresses are introduced into composite materials. At these, cracks are deflected (taking more time to grow to critical size) and ideally even stopped. The structure of mussel shells serves as a model for this.
The design, development and manufacture of miniaturized electronic circuits is becoming increasingly important. This is accompanied by a continuous reduction in the size of these components. For example, transistors initially had sizes of about 10 µm; now this size range is in the region of about 30 nm. This means that they have become smaller by a factor of about 3000.
The chair maintains close relations with industry. By now, many graduates who have completed their diploma or doctoral theses at the institute are working in leading positions at a wide variety of companies.