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Constructing Processing-Structure-Properties-Performance Maps to Support Materials Design

Prof Richard Neu | Georgia Institute of Technology

Constructing Processing-Structure-Properties-Performance Maps to Support Materials Design

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Foundational materials science and engineering courses today still tend to emphasize "good science," as defined by "reductionism," rather than "good materials," which emerge when engineering, manufacturing, and economic factors are included in the mix (Olson, 2000).
A healthy mix of reductionist and systems viewpoints is needed. However, materials science and engineering is typical taught, not as a systems-design problem, but reductionism, a bottom-up scientific approach. Students are invariably shown that the materials paradigm can be represented in a form of a tetrahedron with the corners representing the four-element paradigm of modern materials science and engineering: processing, structure, properties, and performance.
Unfortunately, this representation is a highly ineffective way to convey the knowledge of how these entities of the materials system are logically linked. In a foundational course, pieces of these linkages are invariably discussed from a reductionism point of view, but students often do not see the complete big picture, "the system," that each material embodies. An improved method to convey the knowledge about a particular material system is concisely summarized in a Processing-Structure-Properties-Performance (PSPP) map.
The map is a block flow diagram which contains a structured list of attributes and linkages within a material system. This is a useful tool that can effectively serve as a standard method of communication regarding the physical and chemical mechanisms that control the performance of a material system, and gives guidance on the type of data required to accurately characterize that materials system in its entirety. This presentation describes a workflow to construct a map for any material system, addressing common challenges encountered by novice mapmakers. This presentation then applies these steps in developing maps for high-strength Al-Zn-Mg-Cu alloys. Examples are also provided for other alloys to illustrate the value and functionality of the maps across various material systems.