One of the most obvious characteristics of Materials Physics is the coordinated use of a variety of techniques to piece together the properties of materials and the processes they undergo during manufacture or in use. It is important to understand how structure changes during these processes to design new materials with desirable properties. For example, thermal barrier coatings need to protect their substrate. Therefore, they need to adhere to the substrate while at the same time take up most of the thermal impact that would otherwise damage the substrate. Another example of functional materials whose function roots in their nano-scale structure rather than its average chemical composition are ion-conducting ceramics, which have uses in sensors. The structure of the interfaces between the grains and the matrix of the ceramic determines the conductivity of such systems.
My group uses and helps develop a number of scattering techniques which probe materials processes in situ, i.e. x-ray scattering experiments are carried out under controlled but variable conditions which are designed to resemble those encountered in relevant industrial processes. For example, we have studied the corrosion of a simplified refractory ceramic (modelled on those used in glass melting furnaces) by anomalous small-angle scattering during firing of the ceramic. Another example is an in-situ study of the growth of an oxide coating on a substrate by anomalous and grazing-incidence scattering. Many of these experiments require strong x-ray sources, which means we get to travel to central facilities such as Diamond Light Source at Didcot or Bessy at Berlin on a regular basis.
Born in LÃ¼denscheid, (then West) Germany in 1970, Rudi Winter obtained his Abitur from the local grammar school, Zeppelin-Gymnasium. He moved north to Hannover where he studied chemistry and took his first degree (Dipl-Chem), followed by a PhD (Dr rer nat) in 1998 on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies on Lithium diffusion in glassy and nanocrystalline materials. After a brief stint as a research assistant at SaarbrÃ¼cken, he started lecturing at Aberystwyth in 1999.
His materials interest ranges from industrial ceramics for harsh environments to functional coatings and the processes that lead to both their formation and destruction. A particular focus of his work is the development of in-situ x-ray scattering techniques which monitor these processes under controlled experimental conditions. This includes anomalous and grazing-incidence small-angle scattering and high-temperature diffraction. Outside work, Rudi enjoys hill walking and landscape photography - a hobby for which Aberystwyth is the ideal base.