Melanie Timpel receives Acta Student Award

As part of her doctoral work, Dr. Melanie Timpel was able to show just how strontium is able to refine modern-day lightweight alloys.

As part of her doctoral work, Dr. Melanie Timpel was able to show just how strontium is able to refine modern-day lightweight alloys.

Dr. Melanie Timpel's submission to the journal Acta Materialia made her one of this year's recipients of the 2,000 dollar 2012 Acta Materialia Student Award. The award is considered a high distinction conferred upon up-and-coming scientists. The award ceremony is scheduled for October 28, 2013, as part of the Materials Science & Technology Conference (MS&T) in Montreal, Canada.


Melanie Timpel earned her Ph.D. working under Dr. Nelia Wanderka of the HZB Institute of Applied Materials. Her dissertation focused on examining how adding the refined element strontium acts to refine the morphology of the eutectic silicon phase in aluminum silicon base alloy. Because in spite of intensive research ever since the 1921 discovery of these kinds of alloys, until now nobody had any idea of just why and how this refinement effect worked since refined elements were only available in comparatively small quantities, making it near impossible to document their presence.

Using atom-probe tomography based microstructure analysis in the atomic range, Melanie Timpel was the first scientist ever to successfully visualize refined strontium's positions. The results of her Ph.D. research thus represent a substantial contribution to understanding the refinement mechanism in the aluminum-silicon eutectic mixture. Since these kinds of aluminum-silicon alloys are used as lightweight materials in both the aeronautics and automobile industry, these new insights will help with more specifically improving them.

At this time, Melanie Timpel is working as a postdoc in Prof. Norbert Koch's work group (Supramolecular Systems) at Humboldt University Berlin. As part of the Helmholtz Energy Alliance "Inorganic/organic hybrid solar cells and techniques for photovoltaics," she studies and optimizes energy levels at the hybrid interface using molecular interlayers in an effort to increase hybrid solar cell efficiency. In her work, she is using photoelectron spectroscopy and other experimental options available at BESSY II.


Timpel's award-winning contribution has been published in Acta Materialia 60 (2012) 3920–3928 under the title "The role of strontium in modifying aluminum-silicon alloys."

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