When we buy a commercial product what we first note is its function and its appearence as, for example, the precious look of a noble metal, the engine of an automobile, the rope of a bridge, the wire of an electrical cable, the heat absorbing panes of a modern building, or the decorative ceramic and metallic parts of a modern bathroom. However, the usefulness of these items for their purpose and their life cycle will be determined by the properties of the material from which they were manufactured. Without any doubt we trust in the strength of the rope that suspends a large bridge, in the impact resistance of a ceramic hot plate in our kitchen or in the reliability of the little metallic buckets which provide the thrust of the turbine engine of an airplane at temperatures above 1000 °C. The properties of advanced materials are not so much affected by their overall chemical composition but rather by the specific arrangement of their constituents which we usually can not discriminate with our bare eye. The arrangement of the constituents of a material, i.e. the spatial distribution of elements, phases, orientations, and defects are subsumed under the term microstructure.
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Professor Dr. Günter Gottstein
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
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