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Information for Researchers No. 58 | 20 September 2016
Priority Programme “Strong Coupling of Thermo-chemical and Thermo-mechanical States in Applied Materials” (SPP 1713)

In 2013, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established a Priority Programme entitled ”Strong Coupling of Thermo-chemical and Thermo-mechanical States in Applied Materials” (SPP 1713). The programme is designed to run for six years; the present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

Many applied materials like metals and solid-state polymers consist of multiple phases. Their properties depend crucially on their internal phase-structure, i.e. the fraction and local distribution of the phases, their composition and their molecular configuration or conformation. The phase-structure of the material influences its mechanical properties, while mechanical load couples back to the phase-structure. This strong interrelation is expressed in the thermodynamic functional of the material which is composed of a thermo-chemical, field-dependent part on the one hand and a temperature-dependent mechanical part on the other hand. The derivative of thermodynamic functional with respect to individual degrees of freedom of the system leads to the generalised chemical potential, the gradients of which govern transformations of the phase-state of matter.

Metals and polymers, which are in the focus of the Priority Programme, show strong mechanical response on changes of their constitution. They expand or contract by the formation of new crystallographic phases or show a macroscopic response by the shearing of crystal lattices. In return, external load or external fields can prevent or enhance phase separation in both, metals and polymers. Most applied materials are stabilised far out of equilibrium by an internal balance of chemical or field-induced and mechanical forces. Examples of such materials are high strength steels where the supersaturated crystal lattice locks plastic relaxation, Ni-base superalloys in which a two-phase structure is stabilised by mechanical interaction, or field-controllable functional polymers that show enhanced stiffness and change rapidly their shape in response to external electric or magnetic fields. All of these materials cannot be understood without considering the interplay between internal phase-structure and mechanics.

The central goal of the Priority Programme is the thermodynamically consistent modelling and simulation of the mutual interaction between the internal phase-structure and mechanics in applied materials, assisted by experimental characterisation. The full power of predictive materials modelling will evolve on a general theoretical basis, combining methods of computational thermodynamics and thermo-mechanics, developed for metals, with methods for history-dependent or field-induced phase-structures and their thermo-mechanical behaviour, developed for polymers. It will enable scientists to describe structure and property of materials dependent on the process history and external chemo-mechanical load or external fields in a comprehensive way within a unified framework. The development and the validation of new comprehensive models and methods can also be based on qualitative and quantitative insights from atomistic simulations and experimental investigations.

Individual goals of the Priority Programme are:

  • Identification of the coupling mechanisms between thermo-chemistry/external fields and thermo-mechanics and their modelling, e.g. in the context of continuum thermodynamics or first-principles simulations.
  • Physically-based understanding of phase-structures in materials by the interplay of thermo-chemistry/external fields and thermo-mechanics, their generation and degradation as the basis for the modelling approaches.
  • Development of physically-based materials models, numerical models in the framework of thermo-chemo-mechanics, and tools to cope with these phenomena.
  • Provide datasets and thermo-mechanical coupling coefficients from ab-initio simulations or experiments to complete theoretical models.
  • Provide experimental benchmarks of materials states which show a strong chemo/external field-mechanical coupling for the verification of theoretical models.

In the Priority Programme “complex” and “applied” materials shall be investigated. “Complex” in this context means that the material consists of several constituents (phases) with clearly distinct properties. “Applied” in this context means that the material under investigation shall be a multi-component system to mimic materials for a special application, but not with full technical intricacy. This reduction shall allow detailed studies of individual phenomena for a fundamental understanding as addressed in this Priority Programme.

Projects to be funded must be focussed on the central goal of the Priority Programme. In the projects, the structural and the thermodynamic states must be coupled in two directions:

  • On the one hand, the phase-structure of the material depends on the state or the history of external chemo-mechanical loads and external fields (e.g. electric, magnetic).
  • On the other hand, the response of the material to external loads depends on the phase-structure.

Theoretically or numerically oriented projects are expected to identify and verify their models based on experimental data. The aim of the experimental investigations is to assist the development and validation of the theoretical or numerical work. Therefore, the experimental part of individual projects must not exceed 50 percent of the total work.

Projects which primarily focus on production technology of the materials by melting and solidification or moulding and primary forming are excluded. Also, projects which primarily focus on fracture and failure, chemical reactions, corrosion and surface technologies are excluded. Following materials are excluded: uniaxial long fibre-reinforced polymers and composites, concrete, ceramics as the matrix material, wood, bone and other biological materials.

The application of young scientists for independent projects is strongly encouraged. All applicants are asked to include in their proposals a statement about the intended dissemination of project results and about their willingness to share data, models or software tools within the Priority Programme. It is strongly desired that a benchmark demonstrating strong two-way chemo-mechanical coupling is issued from each project and handed over to the central project for cross-validation and dissemination via the webpage of the Priority Programme. Also it is aimed to compile individual theoretical models into a general thermodynamic consistent framework to be established by all partners of the Priority Programme and coordinated by the central project.

Proposals for the second funding period must be submitted in English no later than 25 January 2017 via the DFG’s electronic submission system “elan” selecting “SPP 1713”. Please follow the guidelines for project submission according to forms 50.05 and 54.01. Proposals by one applicant must not exceed 20 pages. Joint proposals may comprise five additional pages for each additional applicant. If you are using the elan system for the first time, please note that you need to get yourself and your institutional address registered before being able to submit a proposal. Also, if you are planning to move to a different institution (e.g. with a temporary position for principal investigators) you need to get the new institutional address registered beforehand. Please make sure that all applicants of your project (in case there is more than one) start their registration at the latest two weeks before the submission deadline. The registration requests are handled manually by DFG staff.

Please notice the rules for publication lists: Beside the general bibliography, every proposal should include a list of up to ten publications that relate directly to the project, independent of the number of applicants. Further, the number of publications that may be listed in any academic CV is ten as well. These publications need to be classified as a) refereed publications (published articles and monographs; accepted articles with note of acceptance by the journal) or b) other publications (e.g. publications without peer review).

The proposals will be evaluated in the course of a colloquium in Bochum with short talks and poster presentations, scheduled for 27 March 2017.

Further information

The DFG’s electronic portal “elan” can be found at:

Proposal guidelines and preparation instructions are outlined in DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01, which can be found on the DFG’s website at:

For scientific enquiries concerning the scope of the programme, please observe the information given on the webpage of the programme or contact the Priority Programme’s coordinator:

Further instructions on submitting a proposal are supplied by the DFG:

For scientific matters:

For administrative matters: