Johannes Vetter: Mixing materials to tweak their properties

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Not all metal is the same. Copper is known to be an excellent heat conductor, but on the other side a very soft and ductile material. Its strength and hardness is far away from the one of steel, which is an alloy of iron and carbon. However, the thermal conductivity of steel is more than an order of magnitude lower than that of copper.

So why not combine the two to gain tailor-made material properties? This is where the work of Johannes Vetter comes into play. He infiltrates porous steel preforms by liquid copper and investigates the resulting material combination. In his publication Impact of Particle Size Distribution in the Preform on Thermal Conductivity, Vickers Hardness and Tensile Strength of Copper-Infiltrated AISI H11 Tool Steel”, he successfully manufactured workpieces with thermal conductivity higher than steel and strength and hardness higher than copper. By altering the precursor particle size, he is also able to tune these properties in a wide range.

Johannes works at the the Institute of Photonic Technologies, his supervisor is Michael Schmidt. The original publication can be found in Materials.