Materials Research Areas at KTH
Materials research at KTH can be divided into five different groups. They are briefly described below.
The research about steel and other metallic engineering materials done at KTH has a very strong position nationally as well as internationally as shown by the RAE. This research is also of high importance for the Swedish industry as demonstrated by the strong links between KTH and the Swedish metal industry. Some important fields of research are Ab initio calculations within the theory of alloys, thermodynamic and other modelling of microstructure development, corrosion studies and surface chemistry and physics, metallurgical processes, and properties and design engineering. The research spans over several departments and schools and is of both theoretical and experimental nature.
Fiber and Polymer Materials (Soft materials)
Fiber and polymer research is a large and important subject at KTH and covers the full breadth of science and technology ranging from the smallest molecular building blocks to the final product. Methods evolving from the interplay between advanced experimental work and modeling, the latter will aim to consider the structure at different length scales ranging from nanometres to full-sized product size, are the tools to make efficient use of nanostructured polymeric materials. Furthermore, the platform will form a basis for more advanced use of Swedish green resources (forest and agricultural products) that will reduce our oil-dependence by providing raw materials in making new tailored polymer products.
Polymeric materials from non-renewable and renewable resources are used in essentially all industrial branches and all parts of society. The manufacturing of new advanced products relies on control of performance and material properties. The Materials platform with its strength and breadth in all materials science and engineering is capable of creating a competence structure supporting the development of new advanced products. This is also consistent with or even motivated from the sustainable society by using renewable resources, optimizing structure on different length scales, extending product lifetime and by using minimum energy.
Materials for Photonic and Electronic Applications
This research encompasses several classes of materials, such as semiconductors, oxides, metals and polymers, with an overall goal to develop novel materials combinations, advanced quantum structures through bandgap engineering, characterization methods and process technologies which ultimately would yield beyond state-of-the art devices with enhanced functionalities.
We envision in particular the following: (i) new active materials and quantum-confined structures for advanced emitters, detectors and modulators for various applications, including optical communication, spectroscopy and sensing; novel oganic/inorganic hybrid devices would also be considered; (ii) novel quantum dot concepts including spatially indirect optical transitions for realising infrared detectors and image sensors; (iii) new nanofabrication methods facilitating self-assembly and eliminating advanced lithography and thereby allowing for more flexible device designs; (iv) functional layers based on surface structuring using plasmonics or photonic bandgap concepts; (v) realisation of heterogeneous materials combinations of materials with different lattice constants and thermal expansion coefficients, novel microstructures/nanoparticle integration, organic/inorganic hybrid devices, all opening up for important application areas such as optical interconnects, surface sensitisation, nanophotonics etc.; (vi) development of advanced characterisation and simulation tools to gain adequate feedback and in-depth knowledge on the fabricated structures mentioned above. Important research infrastructures are the Electrum laboratory and the ALBANOVA Nanolab.
Advanced Material Characterisation
The decision to by the European governments to build to Eurpean Spallation Source (ESS) in Lund will give Sweden and Europe a unique opportunity to develop an outstanding competence in neutron scattering. ESS will be the world leading neutron scattering facility. In addition the Swedish research council, Vinnova (The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems), Lund University and the Region of Skåne have decided to finance the MAXIV synchrotron radiation laboratory, which also will be build in Lund. The MAXIV will be the most brilliant synchrotron radiation source in the world, with an emittans which more then an order of magnitude smaller then the any existing synchrotron radiation la boratory today. Sweden is also member of several other international large scale infrastructures for materials research, such as ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) and ILL (Institut Laue-Langevin) in Grenoble and EXFEL (European X-ray Free Electron Laser) and the high-energy synchrotron radiation laboratory PETRAIII in Hamburg.
KTH has a long and strong tradition in synchrotron radiation based research and was among the pioneering groups at the start of the present MAX-lab. The work encompasses studies of a wide range of materials and utilizes many different experimental techniques. KTH is at present strongly involved in several beam lines at the first phase of MAX IV and has also a strong involvement in the other large research infrastructures mentioned above. These large projects are truly interdisciplinary and a integrated approach is necessary.
Materials for Energy Applications
One of the largest challenges to mankind is to transform society to new sources for and new systems of production of electricity. Eventually, production of electricity will be dominated by renewable energy sources. Such a transfer will involve new materials for the production, conversion and
storage of energy. Most likely, this inevitable transfer will involve a temporary increase in the utilization of nuclear fission-based energy during a transfer period. New generations of reactor designs will call for new materials in order to become realistic. More specifically, renewable energy sources will rely on wind, water and solar radiation. In the former types of systems new materials with similar mechanical properties as in aero and space application will be required. In the latter cases new semiconducting materials, as well as electrode and electrolyte materials for new-generation solar cells and fuel cells, will have to be invented and tested. In addition, all sources of renewable energy will be based on non-continuous production and thus requires buffering storage systems. Such materials may involve nano- and mesoporous materials for harnessing reactive chemicals, such as hydrogen.
Energy relevant materials involve almost all classes and groups of materials and their applications in components and structures. The width and breath of materials research at KTH makes this area both a natural choice and a challenge as a focus area.