2024 Research Competition - In Conversation with a Previous Winner: Dr Ilchat Sabirov

Published on 3 June 2024

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As we gear up to the kick-off for this year’s Plastometrex Research Competition, we sat down with our 2023 winner, Dr Ilchat Sabirov from IMDEA Materials Institute, to hear about his winning research project, experience with the competition, as well as any tips he may have for would-be entrants.

Plastometrex (PLX): Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Ilchat. The judging panel were very impressed with your winning proposal, and we are excited to hear more about it! Perhaps to start, you can tell us a bit about what motivated you to enter the 2023 Research Competition?

Dr Ilchat Sabirov (IS): My motivation to enter Plastometrex’s 2023 Research Competition stemmed from IMDEA Materials Institute’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of materials science. I saw an opportunity to showcase our innovative research and contribute to the advancement of a novel mechanical characterisation technique. Additionally, the prospect of gaining access to cutting-edge equipment like the PLX-Benchtop was a significant driving force behind my decision to participate.

PLX: Can you briefly describe your research project that won last year’s competition?

IS: Our winning research proposal focused on exploring the applicability of Profilometry-based Indentation Plastometry (PIP) technology for the rapid mechanical characterisation of advanced high-strength steels. These steels often contain metastable microstructural constituents, leading to phase transformations during plastic deformation. Our project aimed to leverage PIP technology to accurately characterise these materials, enabling faster and more cost-effective mechanical testing compared to traditional methods.

PLX: What initially inspired you to pursue this area of research?

IS: The inspiration for our research in this area stemmed from the growing demand for lighter, high-strength, and more sustainable steels across industries such as energy, automotive, and construction. We recognised the need for advanced characterisation techniques to support the development of these materials. Our team’s expertise in metallurgy and our commitment to addressing real-world challenges in materials science fuelled our pursuit of this research.

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PLX: Can you describe the moment you found out you had won the competition? How did it feel?

IS: Of course, there was a sense of excitement knowing that the Institute would have access to this excellent piece of equipment. It was also a moment of validation for the Institute’s hard work and dedication to advancing materials research. There was a sense of pride in knowing that our proposal had been recognised from numerous highly competitive submissions.

PLX: How has life been since winning? Do you feel that winning the competition has made a difference to your research?

IS: Winning Plastometrex’s 2023 Research Competition has certainly raised the profile of our research and opened up new opportunities for collaboration and innovation. The arrival of the PLX-Benchtop at IMDEA Materials Institute will not only facilitate our ongoing research but also attract interest from other research groups and industry partners. Additionally, our participation in European projects such as DELIGHTED and AID4GREENEST further underscores the impact of our research on the future of steel manufacturing and sustainable materials development. We look forward to continuing to build on this success and contribute to advancements in materials science.

PLX: The PLX-Benchtop that you won for 6 months, has now made a permanent home in your lab at IMDEA – what do you have planned for it in the near future?

IS: The PLX-Benchtop has been widely used at IMDEA Materials Institute, not only for the characterization of steels but also for other metallic materials. It is an indispensable tool for characterizing novel materials, which may only be manufactured in small volumes using innovative processing techniques such as additive manufacturing. Additionally, it serves as a perfect tool for the characterization of welds, enabling the understanding of the link between welding parameters and the mechanical performance of joints. Thus, it greatly enhances our research projects. Our collaborators in academia and industry share our excitement about having access to this advanced characterization technique

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PLX: We are delighted to hear it! Are there any particular aspects of working with the PLX-Benchtop that stand out to you?

IS: It is a wonderful and unique tool that allows for the rapid mechanical characterization of metallic materials without the need to machine tensile samples. Moreover, there is no need to post-process data, as the software automatically determines tensile mechanical properties and parameters describing plastic deformation. User-friendly software is another favourite aspect of mine.

PLX: We are glad that you are finding such value in the PLX-Benchtop! Now, looking back on your experience of the competition, what would you say was the most rewarding aspect of winning for you?

IS: Reflecting on my experience, I would say the most rewarding aspect of winning this competition, both personally and professionally, was the validation of our research efforts. It affirmed the significance of our work in advancing materials science and provided recognition for the dedication and innovation of our research team at IMDEA Materials

PLX: What message would you like to give to those considering entering this competition?

IS: To those considering entering this competition, I would like to emphasise the value of participating in such opportunities. Beyond the prospect of winning, the process of preparing a research proposal and engaging with experts in the field can be incredibly enriching. It provides a platform to showcase your research, receive constructive feedback, and connect with peers and industry professionals. My advice would be to approach the competition with enthusiasm, confidence, and a clear articulation of the potential impact of your research. Be prepared to learn from the experience, whether you win or not, and embrace the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of science and technology in your field.

PLX: Thank you for your time, Ilchat, it’s been great to learn some more about your experience of last year’s research competition. Any final thoughts from you?

IS: I would just like to express my gratitude to Plastometrex for their recognition and support of our research efforts. Winning the 2023 Research Competition was a wonderful moment for me personally, and for IMDEA Materials’ Physical Simulation research group. Now that the PLX-Benchtop has found a long-term home here, we are excited about the opportunities it presents for further innovation in materials science.

For more information and to register your interest in the 2024 Plastometrex Research Competition, click here.

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