A newly discovered blend of magnesium and ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles offers tantalizing potential, as the new metal could have some future applications in the auto, airplane, and spacecraft industries.
According to the UCLA researchers who discovered
the metal, it is a super-strong substance, but also lightweight, with an excellent stiffness-to-weight ratio. And this metal might lead to some new and revolutionary materials, as the researchers added they have come up with a new technique that allows for infusing metals with nanoparticles but doesn’t compromise the material’s structural integrity in any way.
“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 UCLA professor and researcher Xiaochun Li in a press statement. “With an infusion of physics and materials processing, our method paves a new way to enhance the performance of many different kinds of metals by evenly infusing dense nanoparticles to enhance the performance of metals to meet energy and sustainability challenges in today’s society.”
Li and colleagues processed the magnesium, then tested the material once it was infused with an evenly-spread and dense collection of nanoparticles. The new metal proved to be stronger, stiffer, and more durable even under high temperatures. Plasticity, more importantly, was also improved. Earlier studies had infused metals with ceramic nanoparticles, but while the infusion had made the materials stronger, plasticity had been compromised. According to Li, this issue was solved when his group dispersed the nanoparticles in molten magnesium zinc alloy.
Going forward, Li believes it might not be much longer before his group discovers a new kind of metal-nanoparticle combination with similar potential in various industries.