Metal structures in 4D

Centre for Fundamental Research: Metal Structures in four Dimensions (M4D)

Recent news:  Looking inside nanomaterials in 3D

In a paper in Science from May 13th 2011, a method for mapping grains and their orientation within crystalline nano-materials is presented. A TEM is used, limiting the specimen thickness to a few hundred nm. A map a 150nm thick aluminium film is shown in the figure. The grains have identical lattice structure (arrangement of atoms) but they are orientated in different ways as illustrated by the labels 1 and 2. The colours represent the orientations of the grains. This new technique has a resolution of 1 nm, which is 100 times better than existing non-destructive 3D techniques for orientation mapping.


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See also News from Risø DTU "Looking inside nanomaterials in three dimensions"

VISION: The aim of the centre is to

- develop techniques that for the first time allows in-situ investigations in 4D (space + time) of the structural evolution taking place inside metals during typical processing such as deformation and annealing at the relevant size and time scale.
- exploit these 4D techniques to address a set of fundamental problems in materials science and metallurgy. In particular focus has been on : i) nucleation, recrystallization and grain growth in metals, ii) polycrystalline deformation and iii) nanostructured metals.

The 4D methods pioneered by the center make it possible to make movies of polycrystal evolution, where for each crystal (grain) one can determine the morphology, orientation, plastic strain, stress and even crystallographic refinement. Millimeter sized samples can be studies with a spatial resolution of 0.5-5 μm and a time resolution of minutes-hours. Dedicated instruments have been established at the synchrotrons ESRF, Grenoble, APS, Chicago, and at PETRA-III, Hamburg.

Examples of work. Left: 3D grain map of β-Ti. Right: Map of grain centers of 1800 grains in steel. Colours denote orientations

The centre is mainly funded by the Danish National Research Foundation, but additional funds have been obtained from EU (Adventure), US Navy (DARPA), Germany (BMBF), Danish National Science Research Council (SNF, FNU), Danish Energy Agency (EUDP), Danish Agency for Science & Technology (PhD school), DANIDA, Nippon Steel and from innovation grants.

Recent news:
After nine years of operation the center was subject to an international review. The reports are unanimous in their praise for the achievements of the center. Excerpts:

  • I enjoyed reading the materials, which gave me the impression of seeing a whole new chapter of materials science.
  • The Centre has contributed a great deal to today’s understanding of materials behavior, and from my point of view the research conducted at the M4D has reached extraordinary levels.
  • The work conducted at M4D is extremely highly regarded in the materials science community
  • The Centre is undoubtedly in the leading position of relevant research fields internationally

Center For Fundamental Research: Metal Structures In Four Dimensions
Materials Research Division
Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy
Technical University of Denmark
DK-4000 Roskilde. Denmark
Phone: +45 4677 5730
Fax: +45 4677 5758

Page updated  by   

Henning Friis Poulsen
Research Professor
Materials Research (AFM)
Dir tel+45 46775739


Center For Fundamental Research: Metal Structures In Four Dimensions
Materials Research Division
Risø DTU
DK-4000 Roskilde Denmark
Phone: +45 4677 5730
Fax: +45 4677 5758