The life-time of a component is confined by the nucleation and growth of small defects during production and in service; the material is successively damaged until the component fails or cannot fulfil a necessary function. It is clear that the durability, i.e. the resistance against the nucleation and growth of defects, plays an important role in the development of new materials.
We investigate the basic physical processes of damage nucleation and -evolution in materials as functions of their micro- or nanostructure and the loading conditions. A deep understanding, how microstructure and loading conditions influence the deformation-, fatigue- and fracture properties is prerequisite for the development of improved materials. Such investigations are currently performed on advanced high-strength steels, Fe-Si-Al-alloys, tungsten alloys, and various nanocrystalline materials that are produced by severe plastic deformation.