ERC Starting Grant for TU project MECERDIS by materials scientist Dr Xufei Fang
2022/11/22 by Astrid Ludwig
The MECERDIS research project at the Technical University of Darmstadt is awarded an ERC Starting Grant by the European Research Council. Dr Xufei Fang's work is being funded with around 1.5 million euros. The TU materials scientist is researching improved ceramic materials that will enable new applications.
Ceramic materials have become an indispensable part of our daily, modern lives. They are used everywhere – in mobile phones, laptops, computers, for sensors and capacitors or even in aerospace. The materials are very versatile, but also very demanding because they are hard and break easily. This is why TU materials scientist Dr Xufei Fang is researching a new generation of ceramics that possess plastic ductility and also open up new application possibilities thanks to a specifically modified crystal structure.
The young TU scientist's pioneering work is now being funded by the European Research Council with an ERC Starting Grant. For five years, the EU is supporting his project MECERDIS (Mechanics-tailored Functional Ceramics via Dislocations). “A great opportunity”, the 33-year-old is delighted to say. Xufei Fang was already selected and funded by TU Darmstadt as an Athene Young Investigator in 2019 for his basic research.
A targeted disruption of the atomic structure
Ceramics consist of ionic and covalent bonds that make the material hard, but also brittle and easily breakable. To improve the material and make it more flexible, the TU scientist relies on a targeted disruption of precisely this atomic structure. He deliberately builds in defects in which several atoms are missing in the otherwise regular crystal lattice of the ceramic material. These so-called dislocations, one-dimensional defects, run as straight or curved lines right through the crystal of the ceramic material and can be used as a channel, for example to incorporate oxygen or also to act as a brake for heat propagation. According to Xufei Fang, it has been possible to prove that these dislocations are also suitable for superconductivity or electrical charges, which makes them interesting for energy generation and a higher efficiency of fuel cells.
However, due to the brittleness of the material, it has so far been difficult to insert these channels into the ceramics in a planned manner. “This is the critical point of research and future dislocation technology”, says Xufei Fang. The MECERDIS project, which is now being funded, is intended to bring about crucial progress. The materials scientist is working on making the dislocations controllable and the ceramics more malleable at the same time. He wants to achieve this with a variety of methods, including electrical voltage, light irradiation, mechanical and thermal processes. The aim of his research is to create stable, selectively placeable plastic zones of millimetre dimensions with a high dislocation density. And inventing a novel ceramic material that does not deteriorate as quickly and has a higher fracture tolerance. “That would open up completely new application possibilities”, says the TU scientist with confidence.
With its personal honors and awards, the DGM wants to contribute to making excellent achievements in the field visible, but also to honor individuals and to promote promising young scientists.
This year, the awards ceremony took place during the DGM Day, which was held the day before MSE 2022 in Darmstadt on September 26, 2022.
Chukwudalu Okafor, Jürgen Rödel, and Xufei Fang won the 2nd prize with their contribution “Polycrystal SrTiO3 Galaxy”, and Alexander Frisch, Jürgen Rödel, and Xufei Fang won the 3rd prize with their contribution “Great White Heron „spotted“ on CaF2” in the Optical Microscopy category of the Ceramographic Competition 2022. The competition was hosted by the Basic Science Division of the American Ceramic Society and took place during the ACerS Annual Meeting at MS&T22 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Maohua Zhang met Dan Shechtman, who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of quasicrystals, at the 71st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2022.
At a ceremony in the garden of Bellevue Palace on June 23, 2022, the Humboldt Foundation fellows, including NAW. Member Dr. Ahmad Sayyadishahraki , were received by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Dr. Xufei Fang (Athene Young Investigator) and colleagues have received the Robert W. Cahn Prize 2021 for the best paper award (out of 1335 papers in 2021) in Journal of Materials Science (Springer Publisher).
Kuan Ding was awarded by the German Ceramic Society (DKG) for the best poster presentation at the 97th DKG Annual Meeting (CERAMICS 2022). The jury awarded 1st price to the poster on “Dislocation and grain boundary interaction in oxides: slip transmission or cracking? ”.
At the Hans-Walter-Hennicke lecture competition 2022 of the German Ceramic Society, Maximilian Kissel won the 1st place for his presentation entitled “Inducing photoelectric effects with dislocations in oxide ceramic single crystal”. In the talk the results of his master thesis were presented, which was carried out in collaboration with Prof. Marin Alexe from the University of Warwick. The project dealt with photoelectric properties of dislocations in oxide ceramics were investigated, which turned out to be a highly interesting research field.
Xufei Fang, Tingting Zhu, Kuan Ding, and Atsutomo Nakamura won the 1st prize with their contribution “Hummingbird Plastically Imprinted” in the Scanning Probe Microscopy category of the Ceramographic Competition hosted by the Basic Science Division of the American Ceramic Society. The competition took place during the ACerS Annual Meeting at MS&T21 (Columbus, Ohio).
Oliver Preuß, Fangping Zhuo, Jürgen Rödel, and Xufei Fang won the 2nd prize with their contribution “Micro Domain City” in the Scanning Probe Microscopy category of the Ceramographic Competition hosted by the Basic Science Division of the American Ceramic Society. The competition took place during the ACerS Annual Meeting at MS&T21 (Columbus, Ohio).
Lukas Porz won the best poster award at the 2021 EMRS Spring Meeting. This was entitled: “Electrical conductivity in dislocation-tuned SrTiO3: A multiscale problem”.
Science published an article of the ceramics group with two other Darmstadt and three international groups on May, 28th. It reports a revolutionary new method of mechanically imprinting a dislocation structure into ferroelectrics resulting in a about 20-fold improvement in properties.
Dr Marion Höfling examines a single crystal after successful mechanical deformation.
Mihail Slabki was awarded by the German Ceramic Society (DKG) for the best poster presentation at the DKG Annual Meeting 2021. The jury priced the poster on the “Temperature-dependent high-power electromechanical properties of Na1/2Bi1/2TiO3-BaTiO3 based composites ”, a recorded poster presentation, and the poster presentation during the meeting with the 1st place.
Professor Jürgen Rödel, head of the Department of Nonmetallic Inorganic Materials at the Institute of Materials Science at Darmstadt Technical University, has been awarded the Seger Plaque, the highest scientific honor bestowed by the German Ceramic Society (DKG). The DKG made the announcement at its annual meeting. Rödel's research includes nonmetallic inorganic materials, electrical fatigue in ferroelectric materials, lead-free piezoceramics, high-temperature piezoceramics and mechanical properties of ceramic materials. As part of the LOEWE priority FLAME, Rödel is working on the potential applications of antiferroelectric materials in energy technology.
The Division of Basic Research of the American Ceramic Society presented the Sapphire Award to Lukas Porz for his scientific and academic achievements and the high quality of his oral presentation on “Deforming polycrystalline ceramics by dislocation based plastic deformation” at the 122nd Annual Meeting combined with Materials Science & Technology 2020.
The highest endowed prize for young researchers at the TU, the Dr. Hans Messer Foundation, is awarded to Dr. Jurij Koruza.
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The most valuable prize for young researchers at the TU, the Dr. Hans Messer Foundation, this year will be given to Dr. Jurij Koruza from the Department of Materials and Geosciences. Dr. Koruza researches materials with special electrical properties that play an important role in the course of technology development and the energy transition.
The working group Non-Metallic-Inorganic Materials, in which the award winner Dr. Jurij Koruza researches lead-free piezoceramics, their application as energy storage and dislocation-based functionality of ceramic materials as well as their mechanical properties. Koruza's research focuses on three main areas, all of which deal with major trends in global energy development.
On the one hand, Koruza is researching environmentally friendly piezoelectrics – materials that change their shape due to electrical voltage – for ultrasonic motors and actuators. Due to the advancing miniaturization, these will play a major role in the future, for example in the fields of medical technology and humanoid robotics.
The ECerS Electroceramics Network proudly bestow the 2020Electroceramics Young Researcher Award (EYRA) upon Lalitha Kodumudi Venkataraman for her contribution to the structural characterization and processing of new Bi-based piezoceramics.
This Award is given every two year, during the Electroceramics conference, in order to honour promising international young researchers in the field of Electroceramics.
Fangping Zhuo, Xufei Fang, Marion Höfling, Jurij Koruza, and Jürgen Rödel won 1st place in the Scanning Probe Microscopy category of the Ceramographic Competition 2020. Their contribution “Nanoindentation reveals the ”real face“ of BaTiO3” was awarded by the American Ceramic Society (ACerS) Basic Science Division.
At Ceramographic Competition, took place in November 2020, hosted by the Basic Science Division of the American Ceramic Society (ACerS). With his poster “Pacific Trillium as plastic zone of indented Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia (YSZ)” Qaisar Muhammad won 2nd prize in the Scanning Electron Microscopy category.
300 participants presented new scientific results
This year's Electroceramics Conference took place from August 24th to 28th as an online event at the TU Darmstadt for the first time. The scientific directors of the conference were Professor Dr. Andreas Klein (Department of Electronic Structure of Materials) and Dr. Jurij Koruza (Department of Non-Metallic-Inorganic Materials).
Prof. Jürgen Rödel was elevated into the rank of fellow of the Materials Research Society. The Materials Research Society is the largest materials research society in the world. At this round of fellows in the first half of 2020 Prof. Rödel was the only one selected from Europe (otherwise 12 from US, 1 from Singapore, 1 from Seoul).
The DGM thanks the resigning federal speaker and her deputy as well as the jDGM local group speakers present at the annual jDGM assembly in Dresden
After two years in office, we thank the outgoing Federal Speaker Marion Höfling and her deputy Uwe Arlic for their dedicated volunteer work.
In addition, the present jDGM spokesman, Manuel Best of the jDGM Darmstadt, Katharina Bollmann of the jDGM Saarbrücken, David Braun of the jDGM Karlsruhe, Michéle Scholl of the jDGM Jena, Uwe Arlic of the jDGM Clausthal and Florian Häslich of the jDGM Dresden for honored her persistent and passionate commitment.
Representatives of all members as well as the board and the junior committee were honored by the two DGM Presidents Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Mücklich from the University of Saarland and Dr. Oliver Schauerte of Volkswagen AG and Executive Board member Dr.-Ing. Frank O.R. Fischer hands over.
From 2020, Michéle Scholl, as a federal spokesperson, will represent the interests of the jDGM local groups on the DGM board.
This programme by the DFG “enables outstanding researchers with a proven scientific track record to pursue exceptionally innovative, higher-risk projects”.
This scheme exists since 2008. Jürgen Rödel was in April 2019 the first scientist at TU Darmstadt to receive this type of funding (1.25 Mill. € plus overhead). He is now looking for excellent young scientists to embark in this project to complement a team of now four researchers. The project will create a completely new research field and avail dislocations in oxides for many new functionalities. (07.06.2019). Dislocation networks are envisaged to afford domain wall pinning (a), residual stress-based
Yingwei Li, Marion Höfling, Peter Keil, and Jürgen Rödel won 1st place in the Optical Microscopy category of the Ceramographic Competition 2018. Their contribution “Hexagonal evolution of amphitheater-like lateral crack below Vickers indent in ZnO” was awarded by the ACerS Basic Science Division during the MS&T 2018 in Columbus OH.
- September 2018
Temperature-Dependent Evolution of Crystallographic and Domain Structures in (K,Na,Li)(Ta,Nb)O3 Piezoelectric Single Crystals Crystallographic structure and domain configurations determine the electromechanical performance of ferroelectric materials, while their temperature evolution directly determines the temperature operational range. The upper six images show the temperature evolution of the ferroelectric domain structure in a PC-oriented single crystal of the lead-free piezoelectric (K,Na,Li)(Ta,Nb)O3, grown by the submergedseed solution technique. A transition from the lamellar orthorhombic to the rectangular tetragonal domain structure is revealed. Images were taken by in-situ transmission electron microscopy during heating. The domain evolution was corroborated by a high-temperature study of the lattice parameters (left bottom graph; obtained by X-ray diffraction) and dielectric permittivity (right bottom graph), revealing the phase transitions between orthorhombic (O), tetragonal (T), and cubic (C) phases.
- 16.05.2018 – 17.05.2018
Prof. Rödel leds the international evaluation of materials science at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan (2nd Best Technical University of China) on 16 and 17 May ( ). After having visited internships ( Fig.1 ) and many discussions, Prof. Rödel gives the final report to the Vice President and the colleagues of the School of Materials Science and Engineering ( Fig. 2 ). Fig. 3
For his master thesis about “dendrites in solid electrolytes?” done in cooperation with Prof. Yet-Ming Chiang of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lukas Porz received a Graduate Student Presentation Award on the MRS Fall Meeting and Exhibit 2016 and was awarded with the special prize of the House of Energy of the state Hesse.
Jan Schultheiß, Florian Weyland and Peter Keil belong to the 12 winners of the “Student Poster Competition” at the 2016 Joint IEEE ISAF, ECAPD, PFM conference. Peter Keil was awarded with a financial gift and a certificate for his work on “Mechanistic insight into varistor piezotronics using doped ZnO bicrystals“, Jan Schultheiß for “Effect of texturing on the polarization switching dynamics in ferroelectric ceramics” and Florian Weyland for “Criticality: Boost of piezoelectric and electrocaloric properties”.
Dr. In-Tae Seo´s research field is the correlation between defect structure and piezoelectric properties of ceramics.
As controlling the defect structure, the various electric properties of piezoelectric ceramics can be achieved. For example, he can make the oxygen ion conductor using the ceramics with high oxygen vacancy concentration. Another example is that he can get the enhanced piezoelectric properties by decreasing the defect concentration or making defect couple.
For these defect structure control, I investigate the A site non-stoichiometry and acceptor doping in NBT-BT ceramics which is most famous lead-free piezoelectric material.
Matias Acosta was awarded with a price for his outstanding academical achievements during 2015. This price is given by the Registered Association of Friends of the Technische Universität Darmstadt once per year to the best doctoral dissertation of each department of the Technische Universität Darmstadt.
- November 2015
The cover of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society (Issue 11, Volume 98) was given to the work M. Acosta, L. A. Schmitt, L. Molina-Luna, M. C. Scherrer, M. Brilz, K. G. Webber, M. Deluca, H. J. Kleebe, J. Rödel, and W. Donner, “Core-shell lead-free piezoelectric ceramics: current status and advanced characterization of the Bi1/2Na1/2TiO3-SrTiO3 system”, Journal of the American Ceramic Society 98  3405–3422 (2015).
H. Liu, M. Acosta, A. Zintler, J. Koruza, L. Molina-Luna, P. Veber, E. A. Patterson, M. Maglione, and J. Rödel obtained the award to the best ceramography in the optical microscopy category of the American Ceramic Society for the study of the domain morphology in PC oriented (K,Na,Li)(Nb,Ta)O3 single crystals observed via polarized light microscopy.
David Brandt has with his lecture of “Ferro Elastic behavior and exceptional blocking force of unleaded BZT-BCT” on 09/16/2015 at “Look through the talents” within the material weeks of the German Society for Materials Research e.V. reached the second place. This work was referring to a paper he had written as a student assistant at NAW. The price includes a book by Springer-Verlag and 200 € free for products of Springer-Verlag.
Lukas Porz was invited to the and had the chance to interact with 65 Nobel Laureates. Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2015
Each year about 650 young scientists get the opportunity to spend one week in close contact to the Nobel Laureates. Their mission is to educate, inspire and connect some of the most promising scientist from almost 90 countries during this week. It is a great opportunity to build a global network as the photo with Nobel Laureate and former energy minister of the USA Professor Steven Chu demonstrates.
Mr. Matias Acosta came up with an idea to improve human welfare. He thought on a minimally invasive surgical device with a broad range of functionalities based on lead-free piezoelectric technology. His multidisciplinary team is comprehended by Mr. Salloum (mechanical engineering) and Mr. Burg (economics and computer science). With help from several professional in the Materials Science department, Highest, and students Mr. Höler, Mr. Benz, Mr. Sprey, Mr. Hassanzadeh, and Mr. Porz the idea is becoming a start-up project. Recently, the idea was awarded with the second best idea (ideenwettbewerb competition) of the Technical University of Darmstadt from 2014.
David Brandt receives for his undergraduate thesis entitled “Electromechanical Characterization of the (1-x) Ba (Zr0.2Ti0.8) O3-x (Ba0.7Ca0.3) TiO3 Lead-Free Piezoelectric Ceramic System” one of the MaWi-prices in 2014. The price will go to those students who have achieved a degree (Bachelor / Master) with distinction in the last completed study half.
Matias Acosta was awarded the “best poster prize” for his work on “Characterization of (1-x)Ba(Zr0.2Ti0.8)O3-x(Ba0.7Ca0.3)TiO3 for large signal actuator applications” at the Joint IEEE 2014 International Symposium on the Applications of Ferroelectric, International Workshop on Acoustic Transduction Materials and Devices & Workshop on Piezoresponse Force Microscopy in United States. The poster by Matias Acosta was ranked 1st out of more than 150 posters submitted and thus received a poster award with financial gift and certificate.
The association of Friends of the University of Technology Darmstadt e.V. announced the awardees of the 2014 prize for excellent scientific contributions on May 7. For the faculty of materials- and geosciences, Dr. Robert Dittmer was chosen to receive the award for his dissertation “Lead-Free Piezoceramics – Ergodic and Nonergodic Relaxor Ferroelectrics Based on Bismuth Sodium Titanate” ( http://tuprints.ulb.tu-darmstadt.de/3621/ ). Dr. Robert Dittmer was a graduate student at NAW from 2009 to 2013 and received his PhD in June 2013 with the grade summa cum laude. The award is coupled with a grant for the work group that supervised the awarded dissertation. Currently, the association has 2500 personal members and 100 company members, supporting science and research at the TU Darmstadt with approximately 100.000 EUR.
On the evening of 20.11.13, Prof. Jürgen Rödel was elected vice-president for the research department at the university meeting. His term of office was 3 years from 01.01.14 to 31.12.16
Heide Humburg received the prize for best M.Sc. student in 2013 during an award ceremony on Dec. 18th.
Her talk was on:
“Effect of Dopingon the Piezoelectric Properties of (Ba1-xCax)(ZryTi1-y)O3
Dr. Robert Dittmer was awarded for his PhD thesis entitled ”Lead-Free Piezoceramics – Ergodic and Nonergodic Relaxor Ferroelectrics Based on Bismuth Sodium Titanate". The award comprises the participation at the Materials Science and Engineering conference, which is organized by the DGM from September 23-25 in Darmstadt.
Matias Acosta was awarded the “best poster prize” for his work on
“Temperature and Frequency Dependent Properties of the
Bi1/2Na1/2TiO3-25SrTiO3 Lead-free Incipient Piezoceramic”
at the ICAE 2013 in South Korea.
The poster by Matias Acosta was ranked 12th out of more than 800 posters submitted and thus received a poster award with financial gift and certificate.
The German Materials Science Society (DGM) decided to honor Mr. Robert Dittmer with the DGM Award for Young Scientists 2013. The prize was awarded during the DGM day in Bochum and is connected with a voucher of 500 EUR for participation at DGM events. Since 1994 the DGM Award for young scientists is given to researches below the age of 33 who perform non-profit research in the field of materials science. Robert Dittmer excelled by a distinguished research performance on functional ceramics as demonstrated by 15 publications and one patent application.
- Jan. 2013
Dr. Kyle Webber was awarded an Emmy Noether-Program from the DFG.
Dr. Kyle Webber has received funding from the DFG through the Emmy Noether-Program to establish a Young Scientist Research Group within the Materials Science Department, Technische Universität Darmstadt. This project will focus on the mechanical properties of perovskite oxides.
Robert Dittmer is awarded the publication prize of the Integrated Research Training Group in Collaborative Research Center 595. The award was presented at the general assembly by Prof. Dr. Andreas Klein presents. The publication award recognizes excellent publication achievements as part of the doctoral program. His previous publications as first author also include essays in prestigious journals, such as Acta Materialia, Journal of Applied Physics or Advanced Functional Materials.
- Jan. 2013
Wook Jo comes to places 1 & 2 in the “Listing of the Most Cited Articles in 2012” Published in Journal of Applied Physics
Evolving morphotropic phase boundary in leadfree (Bi1/2Na1/2)TiO3-BaTiO3 piezoceramics; Wook Jo, John E. Daniels, Jacob L. Jones, Xiaoli Tan, Pamela A. Thomas, Dragan Damjanovic, and Jürgen Rödel; J. Appl. Phys. 109, 014110 (2011); 50 citations
On the phase identity and its thermal evolution of lead free (Bi1/2Na1/2)TiO3-6 mol% BaTiO3; Wook Jo, Silke Schaab, Eva Sapper, Ljubomira A. Schmitt, Hans-Joachim Kleebe, Andrew J. Bell, and Jürgen Rödel; J. Appl. Phys. 110, 074106 (2011); 39 citations
Inelastic hosts as electrodes for high-capacity lithium-ion batteries; Kejie Zhao, Matt Pharr, Joost J. Vlassak, and Zhigang Suo; J. Appl. Phys. 109, 016110 (2011); 36 citations
Increase in photocurrent by optical transitions via intermediate quantum states in direct-doped InAs/GaNAs strain-compensated quantum dot solar cell; Yoshitaka Okada, Takayuki Morioka, Katsuhisa Yoshida, Ryuji Oshima, Yasushi Shoji, Tomoya Inoue, and Takashi Kita; J. Appl. Phys. 109, 024301 (2011); 34 citations
Robert Dittmer, PhD student at NAW, won the scanning probe microscopy section within the ceramographic contest of the American Ceramic Society. was held during this year’s The contest in Pittsburgh (PA, USA). His poster, entitled “Nanoscale Insight Into Lead-Free Piezoceramics”, deals with the local electromechanical properties of bismuth sodium titanate based ceramics assessed by means of piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM). MS&T conference was conducted in collaboration with the Center for Nanophase Materials Science at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN, USA). The PFM study
Dr. Olivier Guillon will be awarded the FEMS Materials Science and Technology Prize. The award ceremony will take place during the EUROMAT conference from September 11 to September 15, 2011, in Montpellier, France.
The executive commitee of the german association for material science (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Materialkunde, DGM) decided, to award the to Olivier Guillon for his outstanding scientific work. The award ceremony will take place at the DGM-Tag, ( Masing-Gedächtnispreiss 2010) in Dresden. 14.06. – 16.06.2011
The Collaborative Research Center 595 (Sonderforschungsbereich, ) on electrical fatigue in functional materials has been funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) since January, 2003. The third and last possible project phase for the years 2011 until 2014 has been under review since May 2010. After detailed examination of the proposal 2011-2014 and on-site survey in Darmstadt on June, 22 and 23, 2010, the proposal was accepted. SFB 595 will be funded by DFG with 8 million Euro for another period of 4 years. SFB 595
The is awarded to Prof. Dr. Jürgen Rödel, TU Darmstadt, by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). He is the fifth member of TU Darmstadt within the last 30 years who recieves this award. For further informations see DFG press release number Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Preis 2009. The ceremony will take place on March 30, 2009. . 67