Hans Nowotny made new and comprehensive contributions to solid-state chemistry at the Institute of Physical Chemistry at the University of Vienna. Through his research on the atomic architecture of numerous compounds in alloys and in metallic hard materials, he created guidelines for targeted material development in the empirical field of alloy chemistry. In order to estimate the properties of combinations of substances and their role in technical products, it was necessary to characterize solid substances by their fine structure and to divide them into structural classes.
Nowotny was the first to systematically investigate the hard material components of technical cutting metals and analogous refractory materials. Furthermore, he also dealt with questions of stabilization of uranium carbide by means of other carbides for high-temperature nuclear reactors. Nowotny’s research on the existence of typical structural elements led to the discovery of several hundred such complex carbides, nitrides and related compounds.