Two ERC Consolidator Grants for Ceramics

Two ERC Consolidator Grants were awarded this year to researchers working on ceramic materials: Dr. Raul Bermejo and Dr. Marco Deluca, both based in Leoben, Austria.

Dr. Raul Bermejo (Institut für Struktur- und Funktionskeramik, Montanuniversität Leoben) was granted the ERC Consolidator Grant for the project “CeraText: Tailoring microstructure and architecture to build ceramic components with unprecedented damage tolerance”. During the five-year period of the ERC Grant, Bermejo will study new concepts to make ceramic components damage-tolerant and more reliable. For this task he will adopt a biomimetic approach, mimicking the hierarchical structure of seashells. By orienting the grain structure, similar to the textured and organized microstructure found in natural systems such as nacre, the crack propagation can be controlled within the textured ceramic layers. The successful implementation of microstructural features (e.g. texture degree, tailored internal stresses, second phases, interfaces) in a layer-by-layer architecture should provide outstanding lifetime and reliability in both structural and functional ceramic devices. The expected outcome of CeraText is the definition of design guidelines that allow the production of future 3D ceramic components fabricated for instance using Additive Manufacturing processes.

Dr. Marco Deluca
(Department Materials for Microelectronics, Materials Center Leoben Forschung GmbH) was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant to research the “energy storage of the future” with his project “CITRES: Chemistry and interface tailored lead-free relaxor thin films for energy storage capacitors”. In the next five years Marco Deluca will study and develop ceramic thin films – based on perovskite Barium Titanate – that will store more energy per volume than any other ceramic material, at the same time possessing high charge/discharge speed. The key is to achieve high energy density with low losses by increasing the dielectric strength and reducing the leakage currents. Marco Deluca will realise this in CITRES by knowledge-driven materials design, using a combination of advanced sol-gel processing, multiscale modelling and characterisation methods. Such ceramic capacitors will be the key enabler to realise energy autonomy (self-powering) of sensors for the Internet of Things (IoT), such as gas sensors for carbon monoxide detection, or vibration sensors for condition monitoring or structural health monitoring.

These awards demonstrate that basic research in ceramics science is still a mainstream and is recognized as a fundamental need, especially when it is applied to new challenges in materials science with societal impact: Improving the reliability of structural and functional ceramic components and the energy efficiency of microelectronic devices. Furthermore, these grants confirm and strengthen the position of the Leoben School as one of the strongholds of ceramics science worldwide. Raul and Marco will be soon hiring PhD students for their grants to work in Leoben. For Raul’s Grant CeraText three PhD students will be searched for processing, characterization and modelling, respectively. For Marco’s CITRES Grant, two PhD students with Chemistry background and experience with sol-gel processing of functional ceramics will be employed from project start. Detailed job announcements will be published soon on the ECerS’ website.


About the Awardees:

Dr. Raul Bermejo was born in Burgos (Spain), he studied Mechanical Engineering in Valladolid and completed his MSc thesis in San Diego (USA). He carried out his PhD at the Technical University in Barcelona and in 2015 obtained the Habilitation (venia docendi) in Structural and Functional Ceramics at the Montanuniversität Leoben, where he teaches an MSc course on mechanical behaviour of multilayer components and microelectronic systems. He visited USA research groups several times in his career, and recently spent a sabbatical at the Penn State University, where he was appointed as Adjunct Faculty by the Materials Science and Engineering Department of that University.

Dr. Marco Deluca was born in Trieste (Italy), where he studied Chemical Engineering. Following his MSc studies he worked at the CNR Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics in Faenza (Italy) and then completed his PhD at the Kyoto Institute of Technology (Kyoto, Japan). He obtained his Habilitation in 2016 in Materials Science at the Montanuniversität Leoben, where he teaches an MSc course on optical methods for materials characterisation. He is Key Researcher at the Materials for Microelectronics Department of the Materials Center Leoben Forschung GmbH, where he leads a group working on the structure-property relationships of functional materials for sensors and energy applications.