One of our major interdisciplinary research activities is the modelling of damage in multi-material composites in microelectronics. First our approach starts from the fundamental question: “What is damage?” ending in the extremely application oriented question: “How can one avoid it?”. Here we follow a material oriented approach, requiring advanced experimental as well as modeling techniques.

Standard fracture mechanical methods are limited in applicability if the crack approaches surfaces and interfaces. Recognizing this fact, Simha at al. and Kolednik et al. in cooperation with the MCL have developed, and constantly evolved, the “Configurational Force” concept. With that method the crack driving force can be computed correctly even if the plastic zone extents to the surface or across interfaces [2,3]. Engineering of new fracture tough components and sophisticated fracture experiments are supported in a founded theoretical manner by this approach.

This allows e.g. the design of thin layered systems with significantly enhanced fracture toughness compared to homogeneous bulk material [4,5]. This is inspired by nature. E.g. nacre has a natural microstructural design, giving it a fracture toughness many orders of magnitude higher than its very brittle constituent material calcium carbonate [6].