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Institut polytechnique de Grenoble

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Grenoble Institute of Technology
Donner vie aux connaissances scientifiques

Présentation of M.F.ASHBY

January 31, 2012
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M. Ashby is emeritus Royal Society professor at Cambridge University. In the field of Materials Science, there is a « before » and « after » Ashby. Afterv the « founding fathers, Mott, Friedel, Cottrell, for mechanical metallurgy and electronic structures, and Cahn-Hillert for physical chemistry and phase transformation, M.Ashby can be seen as the founder of a comparative approach in materials science. He is practising the « art of simplification » at the highest level. He addressed first questions in mechanical metallurgy ( creating the seminal concept of geometrically necessary dislocations, the modelling of grain boundary sliding, as well as the famous « deformation maps », « fracture maps » ). He applied the same spirit to issues related to process engineering, replacing enlighted empiricism by a systematic modelling at the appropriate level of complexity ( « sintering maps », modelling of welded joints).  Just as a side-by to his studies of materials creep, he contributed to the understanding of the creep of the ice polar cap, which a topic of central importance for the interpretation of climate change resulting for studies of bubble compositions in polar ice. He then created from nothing the field of « cellular solids » which is concerned both with engineering materials and with natural materials. His encyclopedic knowledge of materials ( metals, ceramics, composites, polymers, natural materials ) , nurtured by his being editor during 20 years of the major journals in materials science ( Acat materialia, and Progress in Materials Science ) gave him the assets necessary to attack the most formidable problem in engineering materials : Materials and Process selection. He has essentially created the field and made the major methodological advances, setting the standards both for teaching and for engineering practice. The company he has created to implement these ideas in a software is the world leader in the field. Always attracted to new ideas and new concepts, his most recent contributions deal with the aesthetic aspects of materials , and with ecodesign, both issues being of the highest relevance to modern engineering. In 50 years of career, it is more than a wealth of results that he has obtained, it is a profound evolution of the whole field of materials science that he has stimulated.  In the field of materials science, which is so much the embodiment of the engineering spirit, at the frontier between fundamental and applied science, he is certainly in the world the most recognised scientists, known both for the breadth of his knowledge, and the impacts of the methods and concepts he has developed. His books introducing general materials sciences are classics in the field, translated into most langages. His advanced monographs on kinetics of plastic slip, on cellular solids, on materials selection, on architectured materials, on deformation maps are on all the tables of researchers interested into these topics.
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Written by Celina Schmitt

Date of update January 31, 2012

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Michael F. Ashby, Royal society research Professor, Université de Cambridge, Grande-Bretagne
Université Grenoble Alpes