The development of new technologies for energy implies mastering the process of conversion between the different forms (solar, thermal, chemical, electrical, mechanical, etc.), as well as storage processes: Solar energy can be directly transformed into electrical energy via the photovoltaic process and stored in accumulators. It can also be transformed directly into chemical energy (hydrogen) by photocatalysis.
The understanding and control of the structure, texture, composition, kinetics of evolution of materials and thus of their physical chemical or mechanical properties are a major stake in wide fields. In much cases, the materials which one wishes to use for a given application are intrinsically evolutionary. Out of equilibrium dynamics may affect the mechanic, magnetic or electric properties of a number of materials.
Understanding the relations between materials microstructure and their mechanical properties is of outmost importance in geophysics and for industrial design. Concerning material failure, the competition between stress enhancement in the vicinity of cracks and disorder in the material microstructure makes it rather complex to predict. However, the tools of out-of-equilibrium statistical physics provide the proper framework to describe crack growth.