Functional or smart engineering materials are metals, polymers or ceramics capable of acting mechanically on their surroundings (exert force or motion) in response to external stimuli as heat, light, electric and magnetic field. The actions are due to physical processes on the atomic scale.
Research group Functional Materials and Composites /FMC/ has grown from the research of martensitic transformations on oriented single crystals of CuAlNi alloys pioneered by V. Novák in early nineties and later after 2000 shifted towards engineering applications of the commercially most succesful NiTi shape memory alloy. Since the year 2009 in which the Department of Functional Materials was established, the research group FMC is lead by L. Heller
Currently, the FMC research (Fig. 1) involves application of heat treatment, thermomechanical testing, physical property characterization to the functional materials. Besides of that, the group has been active in the development of dedicated in-situ experimental methods for characterization of deformation processes in advanced engineering materials as e.g. in-situ X-ray and neutron diffraction, in-situ TEM and SEM, in situ electric resistometry, 3D-XRD tomography, digital image correlation or IR camera observations during thermomechanical loads applied to functional materials.
As regards theory, the group is involved in the development of thermomechanical models of shape memory alloys and their application to the simulation and design of NiTi structures and composites. We are also interested in crystallographic analysis of stress induced martensitic transofmation in SMAs.
Besides basic research of phase transformations and deformation processes in SMAs, we have been recently increasingly active in the development of engineering applications of functional engineering materials and collaboration with innovative companies developing superelastic medical devices, actuators or smart structures using NiTi elements and textiles.