The activities of Prof. Javier LLorca’s Mechanics of Materials group at IMDEA Materials Institute are focused in the investigation of the processing-structure-properties relationships of materials for structural applications. The expertise in the group combines modeling and simulation with mechanical and microstructural characterization spanning a wide range of length scales. In particular, different computational tools (ab initio, molecular mechanics, dislocation dynamics, phase field, computational thermodynamics, computational mechanics, etc.) and multiscale modeling strategies (transition state theory, homogenization, etc.) are used to establish the processing-structure-properties link. A key feature of these contributions is the use of novel nanomechanics experimental techniques to determine the properties of the phases and interfaces in the material at the nm and µm scale. So, simulations are fed with experimental values independently obtained and free of “adjusting” parameters.
This combination of modeling and experiments was initially applied to composites (metal-, ceramic- and polymer-matrix composites) and some of the group contributions in this area are classics within the scientific community. They have been expanded over the years to a wide range of engineering materials (including metallic alloys, ceramics, amorphous and crystalline polymers, high performance fibers and biological materials) and these multiscale modeling strategies have become the foundation of the modern techniques of virtual testing, which are starting to be used by the aerospace industry to minimize the number of costly mechanical tests to characterize and certify composite materials.
The current interests of the research group – within the framework of Integrated Computational Materials Engineering – are aimed at the development of multiscale modeling strategies to carry out virtual design, virtual processing and virtual testing of structural materials for engineering applications, including the experimental validation, so new materials can be designed, tested and optimized in silico before they are actually manufactured in the laboratory.