The topics of the DGM Expert Committee are intermetallic materials, intermetallic phases as precipitates or coatings of metallic alloys and specific manufacturing methods, fields of application, and characterization methods for them. On the side of universities and research institutions, the Expert Committee unites members from materials science, mechanical engineering, physics, and related disciplines. Members from industry mainly come from areas such as aircraft engine or automotive propulsion technology or are involved in the production of raw materials or the further processing of intermetallic materials. Whereas in the past the focus was on basic research in materials science, the focus is now just as much on applications, with new classes of materials, such as silicides, occupying a broader space. Despite this, or precisely because of it, the link between research and application, and thus also the contacts between representatives from both areas in the Expert Committee, is particularly close in the case of intermetallic phases. The Expert Committee makes a concerted effort to offer younger researchers at the Master's or Ph.D. level an initial opportunity to establish contacts with established scientists, for example by providing opportunities for presentations at the Expert Committee meetings. Not least thanks to the members of the Expert Committee, a scientific community with international appeal has now established itself in the field of intermetallic phases in this country. The most obvious proof of this is the biennial international conference "Intermetallics", which attracts researchers and industry representatives from all over the world.
As they often literally make established materials look old thanks to better or completely new properties, intermetallic material compounds made of two or more metals are extremely attractive for numerous applications in transportation, energy, and medical technology. Shape memory alloys made from intermetallic phases, for example, unfold solar sails of satellites, actuate valves in automobile engines, or make eyeglass frames highly flexible. New aircraft engines with turbine blades made of titanium aluminide alloys save fuel and CO2 and reduce noise pollution for people living near airports. Thanks to their superior properties, iron aluminides have the potential to displace steel in parts of fossil power plant technology and other applications. This can make steam turbines, for example, more efficient and thus more environmentally compatible. Intermetallic phases derive their special properties from the bonding of different types of atoms, and many of these successes have only been possible because research methods are now available that allow intermetallic materials to be characterized down to the atomic level. In a few areas of materials science is the contact between basic research-oriented researchers and the application-oriented industry as close and direct as in the case of intermetallic phases. Germany occupies a leading position in this field, both in terms of research and industrial application in medical, space, and automotive technology. Expanding this position will create and secure jobs. Since the use of intermetallic phases can also reduce pollutant emissions and/or noise pollution and secure and increase the sustainable mobility of society, their further and new development also leads to a better quality of life.
Intermetallic materials have excellent properties but are very sensitive to conditions during production. Therefore, an even better understanding of the interplay between manufacturing technology, microstructure, and material properties is crucial. Equally important is the development of manufacturing methods that are specifically tailored to the needs of intermetallic materials, and of intermetallic materials that are more robust to fluctuating manufacturing conditions. Particularly in the case of the new manufacturing methods from the field of additive manufacturing, there is still great potential for research and development in this area. With increasing industrial use, new issues also arise in repair and recycling, including for production-related residual material. An important challenge for the future lies in construction and design methods that can take into account the special characteristics of intermetallic materials. To solve all these challenges, research activities are needed that take into account all crucial aspects of materials and process development, from basic research to production, further processing, and application in industry.
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