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Atoms seeking partners

Atoms seeking partners

Computer-generated alloys

Experts at the Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Materials Simulation can build new steels from individual atoms, then molecules, then crystals. One of our research partners is ICAMS at Ruhr University Bochum. Experts at the Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Materials Simulation can build new steels from individual atoms, then molecules, then crystals, until finally they have the desired material.

Sounds improbable? It’s actually true, but with one small qualification – the materials are built from the very smallest particles as a computer simulation. “VULCAN” is the name of the cluster computer used for this, made up of a network of 4,500 processor cores.

Exchanging trial and error for accurate prediction

Exchanging trial and error for accurate prediction

Today, long and complex series of tests are still required to determine key properties of steel materials such as strength, toughness, and corrosion resistance. The aim of ICAMS is to predict the properties and behavior of materials with such accuracy that many experiments on the real material are no longer required.

Engineers measure material properties in anything from millimeters to meters. But they originate at the atomic level. The ICAMS scientists start their chemical and physical models by describing the bonds between atoms. “Based on these theories, we develop simulation models that can be used to calculate the properties of materials,” says Professor Ralf Drautz, director of ICAMS.

Interdisciplinary cooperation is one of the key features of the Bochum-based institute. Engineers, physicists, chemists, IT specialists and mathematicians work together to research the materials of the future.

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