The discovery and design of new multifunctional materials is a key challenge in materials science and engineering: e.g. new materials for the sustainable production/storage/conversion of energy carriers are necessary to improve existing and to enable future energy systems as well as new materials for actuation and sensing which are required in small-scale systems for a future internet of things. Design of materials includes strategies for efficient discovery and optimization of new materials. A combination of computational and experimental material science, both applying high-throughput methods, is promising. Thin film combinatorial materials science (CMS) enables an efficient generation of consistent and large datasets on (un-explored) multinary materials systems, which promotes the discovery and optimization of new materials. CMS comprises the fabrication and processing of thin film materials libraries by combinatorial sputter deposition processes and optional post-deposition treatments, followed by extensive high-throughput characterization of the thin film samples contained in these libraries. The large datasets which are produced by the combinatorial approach need to be analyzed with new software tools, e.g. for the rapid mapping of phase diagrams. Obtained results for ternary and quaternary systems are visualized in the form of composition-processing-structure-function diagrams, interlinking compositional data with structural and functional properties. The talk will cover and discuss examples of the combinatorial development of different functional materials: shape memory materials, thermoelectric intermetallics, metal oxide thin film materials libraries for solar water splitting and battery applications, and nanostructured antibacterial thin films. Finally, the importance of developing new materials – not just for themselves but to be part of a system – will be highlighted.
Funding of the German Research Foundation (DFG) is acknowledged.