Section of Materials and Surface Engineering

The vision is to be internationally leading in engineering of materials and material surfaces with optimized performance to meet the challenges of a future CO2 neutral, competitive and sustainable growth society.

Specific sectors targeted are CO2 free electricity production and storage (fission and fusion nuclear power, wind turbines, and Power-2-X), CO2 storage, and energy-efficient transportation through strong and light structures. Focus areas are i) to increase the lifetime of components and products subjected to challenging environments causing degradation by corrosion, wear, fatigue, creep, and finally failure and thus to reduce operational cost and environmental impact and ii) to design materials and material surfaces and to optimize manufacturing technologies for an efficient circular economy, reducing the environmental footprint and conserving natural resources.

The research of the section is multi-disciplinary and covers materials science, chemistry, physics, solid mechanics, and manufacturing technology. It encompasses experimental, theoretical, and computational disciplines, including Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME). It covers the entire engineering value chain and spans over phenomena at multiple length scales – from the near-atomic to the macroscopic regime.

A major strength of the section is the close interaction between experimental and modelling activities to improve the fundamental understanding of e.g. phase transitions, micromechanical and corrosion mechanisms as well as nucleation and growth phenomena.

Core competences of the section are the design of novel materials and material surfaces tailored for specific applications through modelling based on 1st principles (e.g. thermodynamics) and simulation of the evolution of microstructure and associated properties during manufacturing and in service. Microstructures are intentionally modified through changes in chemical composition, phase transformations and recrystallisation upon thermal treatments and by manufacturing methods, such as plastic deformation and additive manufacturing. These methods are also exploited in optimization of the performance of materials having obtained their final shape by e.g. annealing or surface treatments.

The section possesses extensive expertise within thermo-chemical and electro-chemical materials synthesis. This includes surface modifications and coatings to improve tribological or corrosion properties, e.g. in wind turbines, and make e.g. electrodes for Power-2-X. Another key competence is the tailoring of microstructures and phase content of metallic materials by thermo-mechanical processing to optimize mechanical strength and ductility for structural applications and to induce microstructural features beneficial for high-temperature and corrosive environments, e.g. in nuclear power applications. In addition, hydrogels for biomedical applications and geopolymers for construction are synthesized.

The section is extremely proficient in materials characterization by electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and X-ray imaging using in-house instruments and facilities at DTU Nanolab and DTUs 3D Imaging Center as well as international large-scale facilities (synchrotrons and neutron sources). Properties and performance are evaluated by mechanical testing, tribology and testing in corrosive (aqueous or gaseous) and high-temperature environments. Examples include durability tests of materials for application within CO2 storage and of electronics used in the transport sector.