Bioinspired Metal Alloys with Hierarchical Patterned Microstructures using localised laser heat treatments

Themes: Hi-Tech, Materials


A TRL is a measure to indicate the matureness of a developing technology. When an innovative idea is discovered it is often not directly suitable for application. Usually such novel idea is subjected to further experimentation, testing and prototyping before it can be implemented. The image below shows how to read TRL’s to categorise the innovative ideas.

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Summary of the project

The properties of materials are strongly related to their microstructure. When you look at the microstructure of engineering metal alloys (steels, titanium alloys, super alloys, …) you see that it is formed by a combination of multiple constituents arranged in a random fashion. When you study structures in living organisms you see that their constituents are not randomly organised. On the contrary,  these structures follow a hierarchical pattern. One could argue that these structures have been optimised by evolution to accomplish specific functions. Understanding the effects of hierarchical structure can guide the synthesis of new materials with tailor made and yet unconceivable properties to solve current challenges of key industry sectors as automotive, energy, aerospace or defence.

With localised laser treatments, the researcher aims to engineer the  microstructure of multiphase metal alloys in order to unravel what the impact is of various forms of pattern formation in the mechanical properties of these materials. The main challenges of this project are controlling the microstructures formed in the laser affected zone by varying laser parameters and understanding the material multiscale phenomena resulting from the patterned microstructures.

What's next?

The next step for this research is to explore the effect of pattern topology in other physical properties to create materials with exotic and multiple functionalities. Some examples would be materials with negative coefficient of thermal expansion or Poison ratio, undetectable by radar or with high tolerance to damage. Another venture would be to see if it is possible to imprint magnetic or electronic circuits and sensors in structural metal alloys.

Dr. Javier Hidalgo Garcia