Daniel Kiener was distinguished on an European level with a highly competitive Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC).

The Road to Indestructible Materials

At the Department Materials Physics of the Montanuniversität Leoben (MUL), Daniel Kiener focusses on the understanding of deformation and failure processes on a nanometer length scale. Aim of his work is a knowledge driven design of novel high strength and extremely fracture resistant materials. This effort is now also recognized by the European Research Council (ERC), which supports the excellent fundamental research of Dr. Kiener via a Consolidator Grant over the next five years by two million Euros.

In any material application, spanning from engineering and transport via microelectronics to medical applications, two properties are of prime concern: strength and toughness. High strength is important for a maximum effective materials usage in terms of saving resources and energy. High fracture toughness on the other hand is a key parameter in the case of inadequate or unexpected usage to prevent failure of components due to cracking. Conventionally these two properties are incompatible: the material is either strong but brittle, or tough but soft. In his work, Dr. Kiener focusses on understanding the elementary processes governing this behavior, with the aim to overcome this exclusiveness to design novel materials that unite high strength and toughness.

Within the ERC funded project TOUGHIT (Tough Interface Tailored Nanostructured Metals) the research team around Dr. Kiener will realize this by utilizing interface optimized metallic nanocomposites. This will for the first time be accomplished using highly advanced electron microscopy and sophisticated nanomechanical testing, which in a unique way allows to combine nanoscale mechanical and structural data with chemistry information on an atomic scale. Fundamental understanding of the performance limiting processes and their directed improvement by ab-initio informed interface design will allow to tailor novel materials that overcome the strength-ductility paradigm, thereby representing a novel class of high strength and fracture resistant materials.

Daniel Kiener holds the position of an Associate Professor at the Department Materials Physics of the Montanuniversität Leoben since 2013, where he is leading the research activities in the field of ‘Micro- and Nanomechanics’. He was awarded, for example, with the 2017 Masing-Award of the German Materials Society, the Adolf-Martens-Award 2014 of the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), and the Piercy Visiting Professor Fellowship from the University of Minnesota in 2014.

About the ERC Consolidator Grant 2017

Within the Consolidator Grant call the ERC funds scientifically excellent projects of distinguished researchers that received their PhD within the last seven to twelve years. Within the call 2017 the ERC announced 329 Consolidator Grants with a total volume of 630 million Euro. Among the in total 2 539 applications in total 329 proposals were funded, and only 17 of them within the sub-panel materials science within the whole European Union.