Research

The PRISM2 group employ a bottom-up approach to research, where underpinning science and computational frameworks are developed and applied to industrially relevant problems. Five major themes are covered in this process.

(i) Underpinning science, (ii) ICME implementation, and three areas of technology applications for development and exploitation of ICME tools, (iii) Manufacturing, (iv) Location specific properties and (v) Component performance.

Underpinning materials science

Prediction of properties as a function of a manufactured component’s microstructure requires the development of theoretical and modelling frameworks for microstructure evolution and deformation of continuous media. These theoretical frameworks underpin the latest understanding of lattice defect dynamics (point, line and surface defects) and interactions of these with heterogeneous microstructures. Coupling of the different length scales will be through finite element models defined over a number of different length scale domains (so-called FE2 and FE3 methods). Influence of composition is investigated through density function theory (DFT), molecular dynamics and kinetic Monte Carlo.

The development and validation of material models for ICME requires experimental characterisation over a range of length and temporal scales. The University if Birmingham has state-of-the-art characterisation facilities through the Centre of Electron Microscopy which is equipped with an FEI Talos TEM for high resolution STEM images that reveal atomic structure, defects, grain and interface structure as well as environmental SEM, cryo-electron microscopy and Focussed Ion Beam (FIB) techniques.

ICME Implementation

Effective and efficient numerical process modelling is fundamental for the success of ICME approaches. Numerical methods such as finite elements and computational fluid dynamics have been adopted to handle the multiscale nature of ICME problems, such as the FE2 and FE3 frameworks. Rapid computation is essential so that numerical solutions can be completed in a reasonable time.

Manufacturing

The group are developing frameworks for the application of ICME to a number of key manufacturing processes: welding/joining methods, additive manufacture, casting technologies and bulk processing (forming and forging).

Location-specific properties (LSP)

Activities associated with LSP focus on the prediction of microstructure distributions and their evolution. Microstructure-informed process maps will be determined and rationalised in terms of microstructure distributions to predict property scatter. Characterisation of mechanical response through existing testing facilities within the School of Metallurgy and Materials is used for validation of predicted LSP maps.

Component performance

Modern techniques for predicting the life of components are moving away from traditional methods based on mean value properties combined with safety factors towards an understanding of the influence of property scatter on component performance during service. Probabilistic approaches are applied to the determination of creep and fatigue performance as well as to fracture mechanics for crack nucleation and propagation.