New technologies impose tough demands on the reliability of materials

Materials research develops materials that can withstand high radiation and other extreme conditions and reduce the necessity of frequent expensive replacements.

What are your research topics?

I am interested in how the properties of materials change in different extreme environments.

Nowadays, discoveries at the frontiers of physics and new technologies impose new demands on the level of reliability of materials. Materials must be able to withstand high temperatures and pressures, but most importantly, they must be radiation-resistant in order to be safe and sustainable for the people working with them.

Successful collaborations between physicists and engineers create new machines for advanced physics experiments on Earth and in space. New discoveries that have been and will be made through these experiments will offer new glimpses into the heart of matter and the universe. However, all this will not be possible without materials. We must develop our materials to be stronger, more resistant and resilient.

For instance, we want to know how to increase the level of electric fields without breaking expensive machines and, hence, to reduce wasteful power consumption. We want to learn the patterns of changes in materials under high radiation conditions to enable the construction of safe and reliable power plants.

My colleagues and I collaborate with the plasma physics community to enable green and efficient energy production in future fusion-based power plants.

The materials around us are our present; but strong and radiation-resistant, yet cost-effective, materials are our future.

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?

The success of research in the field of materials in extreme environments has a direct impact on society. For instance, in one of our projects we put our efforts into developing humanity’s dream of a cheap, environmentally friendly and sustainable source of energy.

We search for and develop materials that can withstand high radiation and other extreme conditions in power plants to reduce the necessity of the frequent expensive replacement of various parts.

Our research also supports the high-energy physics community, who try to glimpse beyond the known, to discover the missing pieces of the main puzzle, our universe.

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

Understanding the complexity of atomic interactions within materials is very important in our field. A good theoretical model may enable accurate predictions of structural changes in materials under a variety of different conditions. However, the nature of these interactions is very difficult to describe by a single mathematical expression.

Recently we started employing the methods of artificial intelligence that can use extensive data to derive the functional forms that are not visible to the human eye.

This is not easy, but the first results are inspiring and I am sure that in the future we will be able to build models of any materials that will enable a multifold increase in the capability of theoretical predictions.

Flyura Djurabekova is the professor of materials in extreme environments at the Faculty of Science.

Watch Flyura Djurabekova's inaugural lecture as a new professor on the 8th of September on YouTube.

Read about the other newly appointed professors here.