Dislocations in Ceramics

Figure for the group

Advanced functional ceramics play an indispensable role in our modern society and they are typically engineered by zero-dimensional point defects (e.g., doping) or two-dimensional interfaces (e.g., grain boundaries). The potential of dislocations (one-dimensional atomic distortions and main carriers for plastic deformation) in functional ceramics has been greatly underappreciated. This is mainly attributed to the grand challenge of engineering dislocations into ceramics, which are widely known to be hard (difficult to deform) and brittle (easy to fracture). This pressing bottleneck hinders the studies of dislocation-tuned functionality and the true realization of dislocation technology.

Our Dislocations in Ceramics group is working on dislocation-based mechanics and functionality in advanced functional ceramics. Our key endeavors lie in engineering and tuning dislocations (density, structure, spatial arrangement, and plastic zone size) into various functional ceramics without cracking, particularly focusing on room-temperature ductile ceramics. By using dislocations, we aim to achieve functional ceramics that exhibit much improved mechanical properties (e.g., higher damage tolerance, higher toughness, and ductility) as well as tunable functionalities (electrical/thermal/photo-conductivity, photo/electrocatalytic properties, etc.). Our research provides a new perspective in revealing a new horizon of dislocation technology in ceramics for a wide range of next-generation applications from sensors, actuators to energy converters. The Dislocations in Ceramics group receives funding from the ERC Starting Grant (project MECERDIS) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).