The discovery of a new composite material could forever change the way we build airplanes, automoiles, and even spacecrafts.
A team of researchers from the University of California in Los Angeles have made a stunning discovery. According to a report from UPI, scientists have discovered a new combination of magnesium and ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles that could forever change how we build vehicles like airplanes, cars, and even spaceships.
The metal is extremely strong, but is also lightweight. Researchers were particularly excited about the strength-to-weight ratio, which surpasses previous attempts at making a similar super material.
The new material is the result of a new and improved infusion technique that works without the use of nanoparticles, which affect the structural integrity of a blend. According to the study’s lead author Xiaochun Li, a professor of manufacturing and engineering at UCLA, “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.”
Li says that the new method will enhance the performance of a wide range of different types of metals by ensuring an even distribution of infused dense nanoparticles. This technique, he hopes, will go a long way towards meeting the efficiency and sustainability goals of companies today.
The technique described in the study infuses a dense layer of nanoparticles with a mixture of magnesium, which held up under testing in high temperature and pressure environments. It was stronger, stiffer, and more plastic than any other material ever tested.
Previous attempts at infusing nanoparticles with industrial materials fell short of requirements due to the nanoparticles’ tendency to clump together when mixed with metals. This made materials strong and stiff, but left them with a weak plasticity. Scientists found that by dispersing the nanoparticles in an alloy of molten magnesium and zinc, the plasticity of the material was preserved while keeping the weight low.
The discovery could lead to further breakthroughs in materials science. According to Li, “The results we obtained so far are just scratching the surface of the hidden treasure for a new class of metals with revolutionary properties and functionalities.”
A press release from the University of California Los Angeles describing the study can be found here.