Materials science seeks to correlate microstructure with (mechanical) properties. Most technologically relevant materials are too complex to understand microstructure-property relationships. This is due to the limitations of traditional characterization strategies because: variation of one microstructural feature affects multiple microstructural features (e.g. cooling rate affects grain size, volume fractions, atomic structure, shape, dispersion, spacing,…), imperfections often dominate materials properties yet they are difficult to characterize, typically only allow small variations of microstructural features. We propose a novel approach to study the microstructure-property relationship; artificial microstructures, which allow us to individually and independently vary microstructural features and thereby determine their individual effects on mechanical properties. Virtually any feature shape can be fabricated with length scales ranging from 1 micron to 1 millimeter. These artificial microstructures, which can be periodic or stochastic, are fabricated through a combination of silicon lithography and thermo plastic forming. A range of materials and material combinations can be used including (BMGs, thermoplastics, soft metals, silicon and carbon. In addition to the ability to decode complex microstructures and microstructural architecture the artificial microstructure concept can also be used to study the effect of imperfections on the mechanical behavior of materials.

A combination of silicon lithography and thermoplastic forming of metallic glasses allows for precise fabrication of artificial microstructures. During characterization, microstructural events can be correlated with the stress-strain curve.

A combination of silicon lithography and thermoplastic forming of metallic glasses allows for precise fabrication of artificial microstructures. During characterization, microstructural events can be correlated with the stress-strain curve.ures which are embedded into mechanical test samples for tensile and compression testing.

Our experimental setup allows to directly correlate microstructural changes with mechanical properties.

Our experimental setup allows to directly correlate microstructural changes with mechanical properties.

Various artificial microstructures which are embedded into mechanical test samples for tensile and compression testing.

Various artificial microstructures which are embedded into mechanical test samples for tensile and compression testing.

A combination of silicon lithography and thermoplastic forming of bulk metallic glasses allows for precise fabrication of artificial microstructures.

A combination of silicon lithography and thermoplastic forming of bulk metallic glasses allows for precise fabrication of artificial microstructures.