Starting Grant for Professor Sandra Korte-Kerzel


Starting Grant Professor Sandra Korte-Kerzel

Prof. Korte-Kerzel holding the award © Peter Winandy

The European Research Council funds scientists with Starting Grants. These are considered one of the most prestigious funding instruments in Europe, as research work can be funded with up to 1.5 million euros. Applicants must demonstrate outstanding preliminary 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 and headed the Institute of Metallurgy and Materials Physics since 2013. Korte-Kerzel studied physics and mechanical engineering at RWTH and earned her doctorate at the University of Cambridge. From 2011 to 2013, she was an assistant professor of materials micromechanics at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

The European Research Council enables research into the deformation of complex crystal structures

New structural materials with high strength and temperature resistance are key to realizing sustainable energy conversion and mobility technologies. The central question is how to find high-performance materials that combine high strength with deformability, which is essential for safety.

The Starting Grant funding will now enable the study of the fundamental building blocks of complex crystals. For the majority of the thousands of intermetallic phases with complex crystal structures, 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 other exceptional materials exist.

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