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Student researches whether armour was really bullit-proof

Delft University Of Technology : 02 December, 2006  (Technical Article)
TU Delft awarded the
The second prize went to Niels Groot, who will research ancient pottery using a particle accelerator. The Delft manufacturer of earthenware, De Porceleyne Fles, will offer its help in reproducing a number of objects for research. Sylvia Leever of TU Delft and Niels Groot of the University of Leiden both received a sum of € 10.000.

Sylvia Leever, a Materials Engineering student, will research the characteristics of 17th century metal armour chest plates. Her method is quite unconventional because she will conduct destructive research with two of these plates, especially purchased for this project. With the aid of ballistics testing at TNO PML, Sylvia wants to find out the truth about this type of armour. “Were chest plates from that time really bullet-proof, as they are thought to have been, and exactly what materials were they made from? How could craftsmen in those days give their products the right characteristics without possessing 21st century knowledge on materials behaviour? These are some of the questions I would like to answer,” says Sylvia. She came to this idea because of her interest in the history of the Middle Ages and because of a proposal by the The Royal Armouries in Leeds, England.

A student of Archaeology at the University of Leiden, Niels Groot, is currently doing research in Jordan, on 3200 year old earthenware. What makes these pieces special is that the enamel contains chrome, which was thought to have been first used by the Romans, 1200 years later. Also, minerals were used that give the enamel a special glow. The use of these materials is considered to be very much ahead of its time. The production process of this ceramic is as yet unknown. With the use of, among other things, the synchrotron facility ESRF in Grenoble, Niels hopes to gain more insight into the process.

The DCMat Young Wild Idea programme makes it possible for students at TU Delft to explore unusual research paths in the field of materials science. Originality and innovation are key factors taken into account by the judges. The programme awards each approved project €10.000. In this way, creativity and entrepreneurship are stimulated.

The Delft Centre for Materials is one of the thirteen spear-points of the Delft University of Technology; it combines the expertise available within TU Delft in the field of structural materials. By making the knowledge gathered in the 22 involved chairs available to Dutch industry, the centre contributes to its innovativeness and competitiveness. The central research theme for the years to come is the development of intelligent, self-repairing materials. Self-repairing materials would be a breakthrough in man-made materials and would be an extremely important development for metals, polymers, and civil materials such as concrete and asphalt.
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