Silicon particles on the surface of an aluminium alloy. Credit: Monash University

Metals for a new era

November 23, 2012

Cars that change colour at the push of a button; metals that strengthen with use; buildings that harness energy from the wind… research into designing structural materials that are both responsive and functional is shifting such ideas from the realm of fantasy to reality.

Associate Professor Christopher Hutchinson of the Department of Materials Engineering at Monash University foresees a future in which reimagined structural materials would have multi-functional roles.

“Instead of designing materials and hoping that their structure and properties do not evolve too much during their life, we should acknowledge that they will evolve in service, and design them so that evolution is forced in a direction that actually improves the properties of the material,” Associate Professor Hutchinson said.

The significance of Associate Professor Hutchinson’s work on designing materials that dynamically evolve in response to stress is recognised by his Future Fellowship award from the Australian Research Council. He also receives support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Design in Light Metals.

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