Desired properties of a material are generally obtained by modifying/tuning its microstructure. This is often achieved by invoking phase transformations by subjecting the material to some temperature-time programme.
Our goal is to provide answers to two major scientific questions associated with phase transformations:
- What is the origin of a phase transformation?
- What are the mechanism and rate of the transformation?
The first question has a thermodynamic background and asks for determination of the difference between the (Gibbs) energies of equilibrium and metastable states of matter.
The second question can be reformulated as the desire to develop understanding for the time-temperature dependence of a phase transformation, i.e. the phase transformation kinetics.
In recent years the department focused on transformations at interfaces, especially in nanocrystalline materials. Deep insight into the interplay of thermodynamics and kinetics was obtained, on the basis of cutting-edge experiments applying top-notch surface analytical and X-ray diffraction techniques, where the department is world leader. Issues of scientific and technological interest are tackled very successfully, as typically illustrated by the concentrated effort on the analysis and modelling of solid state transformation kinetics.