Photo: Mikal Schlosser

Materials scientist on international arena

Thursday 15 Nov 18


Dorte Juul Jensen
Professor, dr. techn.
DTU Mechanical Engineering
+45 45 25 47 77
With the help of two new grants, Professor Dr. Techn. Dorte Juul Jensen will develop new equipment and increase knowledge about metals and processing techniques.

At the same time, her aim is to strengthen research collaboration between Denmark and China.

For most of her more than 35-year-long career, Professor and Materials Scientist Dorte Juul Jensen from DTU Mechanical Engineering has conducted research in metals structures and properties. In 1997, she became the first female Dr. Techn., she is the author of more than 450 scientific articles, and she has pioneered development of non-destructive 3D techniques that can look inside metals and describe their internal structures. In 2016, she received the prestigious CS Smith Award for the ground-breaking results she achieved using these 3D techniques.

This year she received an ERC Advanced Grant—an EU grant you only qualify for when you have really significant scientific breakthroughs on your CV. At the same time, she was selected by the Chinese Thousand Talents Plan as a Thousand Talents professor (foreign expert). Based at Chongqing University, she will spend two months a year over the next three years promoting research between China and Denmark.

“I visited China for the first time in 1997 and have regularly returned to the country ever since. During this time, China has made tremendous progress within my field of research, and if this development continues, Europe will really have to get its skates on to keep up,” she says.

Photo: Mikal SchlosserVariations in metal 

While the ERC project and the Chinese collaboration have different aims, both are concerned with research into metals. Despite playing a key role in our daily lives for more than 2,000 years, there is still a lot we do not know about metals and areas we can improve:

“We are talking about variations in the structure and properties of metals and alloys. You can buy metal with a given strength, but it won’t be the same throughout. There will be areas where it is stronger and weaker—where fractures typically occur. Therefore, engineers usually allow for a fairly large margin of safety in their designs. An important objective of the ERC project is to classify these variations in metals using 3D and 4D measurements (x, y, z and time, ed.).”

Dorte Juul Jensen’s new ERC project got underway 1 October and will continue for the next five years.

Currently, international X-ray synchrotrons offer the best opportunities for studying variations in metals using 3D and 4D. One of the newest and most powerful of these—MAX IV—is located in Lund, Sweden, where researchers can look inside materials with extremely high resolution. However, large synchrotrons are few and far between, and it is impossible to get sufficient testing time to carry out the many experiments needed to achieve a basic scientific understanding and to develop new theories.

A tiny revolution

Dorte Juul Jensen and her partners in Denmark, the United States, France, and Belgium will spend the next five years developing a supplementary technology so that researchers in future can perform many of these experiments in the laboratory.

“I think this could become a small revolution with the opportunity to expand 4D characterization to leading laboratories around the world,” she says—adding that researchers in the ERC project will use the new technique to look at variations in advanced steel and aluminium alloys in layered composites and metal components produced by 3D printing.

“Looking further ahead, it’s about saving materials and energy, and creating new designs that exploit the variations and make application more secure. Metals are used everywhere—from the smallest components to the largest structures—so any slight progress will have a major impact. There is really so much to be gained.”

Strengthened collaboration with China

Just three weeks after the commencement of the new ERC project, Dorte Juul Jensen will travel to China as part of the Thousand Talents Project.

“Chongqing University has, among other things. some of the world’s most advanced microscopes—and a large pool of excellent researchers and students. Through collaboration, we will gain a unique insight into the current state of research in China. At the same time, some of the best Chinese students and researchers will have the opportunity to come to Denmark, and we can open doors in China for Danish students and researchers—thus strengthening research collaboration between China and Denmark,” says Dorte Juul Jensen.