Since the project has just started, tests have not begun yet. However, an analysis may look like this. These Toblerone looking small pieces are from a cutting tool and show small particles in the tungsten carbide material. The image is taken using a scanning electron microscope.
Professor Uta Klement leads a research group called Surface and Microstructure Engineering. She examines the properties of metals and different ceramic materials. These include nano materials, different types of coating, advanced steel or superalloys. By understanding the structure and construction of the materials, it is possible to achieve more sustainable production processes and products. Manufacturers can use less material and also use the material more efficiently and longer.
One example is new thermal barrier coatings that allow for higher combustion temperatures in gas turbines such as in airplane engines, which would improve efficiency and result in lower emissions.
In a new project, which deals with improving the grindability of recycled steel, Uta Klement collaborates with a group of researchers and combines analyses of big data with material characterization. This is the first time they try this method. She tells us what benefits it brings.
– Our material analyses are often based on an assumption, not on a theory. However, in industry a lot of data is collected in material processing. By analysing these data we can get hints on what to look for in the microstructure. Our material science knowledge helps to interpret the data, and then we can perform accurate investigations instead of looking for the "needle in the haystack".
Knowing what you are looking for is particularly important in research that zooms in on a small piece of material using electron microscopy and other complementary techniques. Taking advantage of data can be a breakthrough and become a generic approach, says Uta Klement.
– New and improved characterization technology and the ability to interpret the results enable us to increase our knowledge and produce new and better products with better features and better utilization of the resources. Indirectly this is important to all of us.
Text and photo: Nina Silow