2011 Carl Freudenberg Prize awarded to Alexander Konyukhov

Weinheim. November 12, 2012. Last Saturday, Dr. Alexander Konyukhov (photo) received the Carl Freudenberg Prize, awarded every two years, at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The jury honored the work of the Russian scientist in the field of mechanics. In addition to thermomechanics, his main area of work over the past few years has been contact mechanics. Currently, Konyukhov is professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Nottingham in Ningbo, China. At the end of next year, he will be returning to KIT to continue his research.  Konyukhov came to the Institute of Mechanics at the former University of Karlsruhe in 2002. His expertise is in considerable demand among specialists for publications in scientific journals and presentations at congresses as well as workshops. At KIT, he holds lectures on contact mechanics. Contact mechanics includes all major areas of mechanics, the key theoretical subject for the analysis of solid bodies in the construction industry and mechanical engineering. Mechanical analysis is based on the fact that all bodies and structures are in contact with neighboring bodies or are brought into contact with neighboring bodies by stress and movement. The questions considered range from technical challenges such as impact problems, accidents in automobile construction or aircraft crashes, the inflation of airbags, the falling of objects such as mobile phones through to the design of ropes and cables consisting of several strands or wires. Contact mechanics is also concerned with the human body. Clothing touches the human body in several layers. When sitting or walking, people are in contact with a chair or the floor. Contact is also a crucial aspect of sports such as tennis, football and boxing as well as bobsleighing, skiing and figure skating. Even when we are sleeping or eating, contact between the teeth is a key consideration, whether we are biting into an apple or steak or grinding our teeth in the night. From the point of view of contact mechanics, not only the deformation of bodies is of crucial importance but also their surface, their geometric shape and their local consistency. This is described from a general mechanical point of view, in terms of roughness and friction, as is the case with the highly stressed seals produced by the Freudenberg Group. Research at KIT can consider these aspects right down to the smallest detail. Effects such as lubrication, adhesion, repulsion, heat transfer and erosion are studied by other working groups at KIT.Dr. Konyukhov's habilitation thesis not only deals with observing but also with modeling the actual behavior of bodies on different scales. This calls for outstanding knowledge of mathematics, especially differential geometry. In addition, models must be implemented in major simulation programs and linked to the aspects of severe deformation and movement. It would be a mistake to think that this research does not have a direct practical connection. All the questions raised come directly from practical applications and the solutions developed are put into practice. All technical solutions now call for the use of computer simulation programs. Well-functioning solutions and the algorithms developed are incorporated in these programs. The Carl Freudenberg PrizeThe Carl Freudenberg Prize, which includes a cash award of 5,000 euros, is intended to support young scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. It is awarded every two years for the best scientific and technical work. Prizewinners are selected on the basic of scientific excellence and potential industrial use by an interdisciplinary committee of KIT. The prize has been awarded since 1951 and was established by the Freudenberg Group in 1949 on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. It is named after Friedrich Carl Freudenberg (1848-1942), who studied at the Polytechnic Institute, later Karlsruhe University and now Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and is part of the commitment of the Freudenberg Group to the region around its headquarters in Weinheim