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Hybrid Materials Systems

The “Hybrid Materials Systems” department develops approaches for designing integrated materials. This includes materials which are not only lightweight and strong but also can be used as functional materials, for example, by acting as sensors that generate electrical currents in response to mechanical stress. A network of nanometer-sized metal struts provides the high-strength and, at the same time, a lightweight basic framework of these materials. Their surfaces are coated with polymers that serve for functionalization. The material design thus uses the interaction between electrical potentials, by which the reversible insertion and removal of foreign atoms can be controlled, and the mechanics. In order to optimize the properties of these systems, i.e. reduction of weight and increase of strength and functionality, we use hierarchical structures that are self-similar at different length scales. This is how we develop novel lightweight materials as well as active strain sensors for use in condition monitoring of components. Due to their high structural complexity, these materials act as challenging model systems which advance the virtualization of materials development.