RWTH Professor Sandra Korte-Kerzel Awarded With Starting Grant

Copyright: © Peter Winandy

The European Research Council supports researchers with funding in the form of Starting Grants. These are considered one of the most prestigious funding instruments in Europe, since they allow research projects to be financed with up to 1.5 million euros. Applicants must demonstrate that they have already produced outstanding supervised work. Now the application "Fundamental Building Blocks - Understanding plasticity in complex crystals based on their simplest, intergrown units" by RWTH professor Sandra Korte-Kerzel has been approved. She has held the Chair of Materials Physics since 2013 and is head of the Institute for Physical  Metallurgy and Materials Physics. Korte-Kerzel studied physics and mechanical engineering at RWTH Aachen University and received her doctorate from the University of Cambridge. From 2011 to 2013 she was Junior Professor of Micromechanics of Materials at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.


European Research Council enables research on the deformation of complex crystal structures

New structural materials displaying high strength and temperature resistance are the keys to realizing sustainable energy conversion and mobility technologies. The central question is how to find high-performance materials that combine high strength with the formability essential for safety.

The Starting Grant now makes it possible to investigate the fundamental building blocks of complex crystals. For the majority of the thousands of intermetallic phases with complex crystal structures, the mechanical properties such as strength or resistance to sudden fracture failure are unknown. Most of these materials are too brittle for technological applications. However, already known exceptions with outstanding property combinations suggest that there are other exceptional materials.

Using mechanical experiments on the nanometer and micrometer scale and high-resolution electron microscopy, the missing fundamental mechanisms and signatures of the plastic deformation of complex intermetallic materials will be investigated. A new approach will be pursued by looking at the fundamental, smaller building blocks instead of the complex large crystal structures of the intermetallic compounds. In this way, the knowledge about relationships between the crystal structure and the properties can be extended beyond the much simpler metallic crystals, and a knowledge-based search for new structural materials is possible.