A new super metal has been created by the scientists of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), which is likely to bring about a revolution in the production of airplanes, spacecraft and cars. The metal has been made with a combination of ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles and magnesium, and is likely to have varied applications. This metal is highly strong and super light, along with distinct stiffness-to-weight ratio.
“It's been proposed that nanoparticles could really enhance the strength of metals without damaging their plasticity, especially light metals like magnesium, but no groups have been able to disperse ceramic nanoparticles in molten metals until now”, said Xiaochun Li, a professor of manufacturing and engineering at UCLA.
Scientists have found an innovative method to disperse the nanoparticles in metal, with no impact on the structural integrity of the metal. The nanoparticles were infused in a molten magnesium zinc alloy.
Li added that this breakthrough will be instrumental in meeting today’s energy and sustainability needs by evenly dispersing dense nanoparticles to enhance the performance of other metals as well. The new metal is capable of absorbing high temperatures.
Since magnesium is available in abundance, thereby it will not be environmentally hazardous to boost the production of this new metal. Scientists expect that the industrial use of this metal will soon be realized. Furthermore, scientists believe that a new metal-nanoparticle combination will be soon developed, with new innovative and increased potential.
In a statement provided to Gizmodo News, their approach was to mix silicon carbide nanoparticles—that’s the super-hard ceramic used on cutting blades—into a molten magnesium zinc alloy. That allowed them to disperse the nanoparticles evenly through the metal, before it was cooled and compressed using high-pressure torsion.
The final product—technically known as a nano-composite—is about 14 percent silicon carbide and 86 percent magnesium by weight, and its properties seem impressive. In a series of tests, the researchers have shown that, compared to materials with a similar density, it demonstrates ‘record levels’ of stiffness-to-weight ratio and strength-to-weight ratio.
As report by Phys, structural metals are load-bearing metals; they are used in buildings and vehicles. Magnesium, at just two-thirds the density of aluminum, is the lightest structural metal. Silicon carbide is an ultra-hard ceramic commonly used in industrial cutting blades. The researchers' technique of infusing a large number of silicon carbide particles smaller than 100 nanometers into magnesium added significant strength, stiffness, plasticity and durability under high temperatures.
The researchers' new silicon carbide-infused magnesium demonstrated record levels of specific strength—how much weight a material can withstand before breaking—and specific modulus—the material's stiffness-to-weight ratio. It also showed superior stability at high temperatures.
The UPI notes that, A new metal, a combination of magnesium and ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles, is promising to change how airplanes, spacecraft and cars are manufactured. Its inventors, materials scientists at UCLA, say the metal is super strong, but most importantly, lightweight. The metal's stiffness-to-weight ratio is what sets it apart from similar inventions.
Researchers say the metal may be just the first of many groundbreaking manufacturing materials. That's because they've invented a new technique for infusing metals without nanoparticles without hurting the metal's structural integrity.