Similar underlying scientific challenges became evident on comparison of the process chains for different material classes in the Research Areas B-E during the first funding period. Members from all Research Areas of EAM therefore worked together in Focal Topics to explore these scientific challenges from different perspectives in great depth during the second part of EAM funding.
Focal Topics were structural elements orthogonal to the process chains. Whereas the process chains explored the hierarchical structural evolution for a specific material function, Focal Topics focused on highly relevant unifying topics of general interest to EAM. Four fundamental scientific issues were studied and discussed from different viewpoints in a variety of formats, and in direct scientific collaborations (within EAM and with international partner institutions, with guest scientists and young researchers).
The unique approach towards elucidating fundamental issues involved all disciplines of EAM and generated enormous international visibility. Furthermore, Focal Topics represented an ideal hub for new coordinated research projects.