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Having played an acknowledged role in the 2011 Fukushima disaster, it has long been understood that hydrogen penetration can accelerate the deterioration of structural materials. In this video, BAPTISTE GAULT analyzes this process of hydrogen embrittlement and puts forward ideas as to how it can be combated. Focusing on steel in the first instance, Gault employs atom probe tomography to pin down the scale and location of hydrogen penetration. Suggesting that hydrogen’s potential to do damage is related to its atoms’ ability to roam, Gault proposes that particles be introduced to trap them/restrict their movement. The research has undoubted potential application beyond steel, in titanium and nickel alloys as well in the broader realm of hydrogen fuel.


Dr. Baptiste Gault is Group Leader of Atom Probe Tomography in the Department of Microstructure Physics and Alloy Design at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH. An ERC-Consolidator group leader in the same department, Gault is also a Part Time Reader in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London. Having completed his PhD at the University of Rouen in 2007, Gault has also worked at the University of Sydney, Oxford University and Elsevier Ltd. A founding editor of Materialia, Baptiste Gault was awarded the highly prestigious Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize for 2020 for his outstanding research in the field of materials sciences.


Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung

Novel alloys for automotive lightweight design and airplane turbines, materials for sustainable energy conversion and storage, and the development of big data and machine learning methods – these are just a few examples of the research areas that are being investigated by the scientists of the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung. The team of engineers, material scientists, physicists, and chemists develops tailored materials and methods for mobility, energy, infrastructure, and information. To this end, the researchers study complex materials with atomic precision under real environmental conditions.
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Original publication

Solute Hydrogen and Deuterium Observed at the Near Atomic Scale in High-Strength Steel

Breen Andrew J., Stephenson Leigh T., Sun Binhan, Li Yujiao, Kasian Olga, Raabe Dierk, Herbig Michael and Gault Baptiste
Acta Materialia
Published in 2020

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