Researchers develop extremely strong but lightweight new metal using novel way

Researchers develop extremely strong but lightweight new metal using novel way

Magnesium infused with dense silicon carbide nanoparticles has resulted into a new extremely strong yet light weight structural material. The new material developed by researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has super-high specific strength and modulus. It can be used to make airplanes, cars, mobile, electronics and more.

The research paper published in the journal Nature has unveiled that to make the super-strong yet lightweight metal, the researchers have come up with a new way to separate and stabilize nanoparticles in molten metal.

Nanoparticles’ USP lies in enhancing strength while maintaining or even improving metals’ plasticity. But the particles have tendency to clump together rather than the getting separated evenly. To sort out this issue, the researchers have dispersed the particles into a molten magnesium zinc alloy.

The newly-formed nanoparticles dispersion depends on the kinetic energy in the particles’ movement, which stabilizes the particles’ dispersion and clumping also do not take place. The researchers also came up with a new scalable manufacturing method that would help improve the performance of lightweight metals.

Study’s lead researcher Xiaochun Li from the UCLA said, “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”.

Structural metals are considered to be load-bearing metals; they are used in buildings and vehicles. Magnesium is the lightest structural metal. To talk about silicon carbide, it is an ultra-hard ceramic generally used in industrial cutting blades.

In the research, the researchers have used a technique to infuse a large number of silicon carbide particles smaller than 100 nanometers into magnesium. The new silicon carbide-infused magnesium has shown record levels of specific strength and specific modulus. The new metal is around 14% silicon carbide nanoparticles and 86% magnesium.