A team of researchers at Purdue University in Indiana have developed what they claim is a superstrong material which can transform a few manufacturing processes in the automobile and aerospace industries. The team at Purdue which was led by Xinghang Zhang, a professor in Purdue’s School of Materials Engineering, came up with high-strength aluminum (AI) alloy coatings. Zhang said that the demand for such materials is on the upswing due to the benefits they offer to automotive manufacturers and the aerospace industries.
According to Zhang, the new aluminum alloy is highly durable and lightweight while being just as strong, or even stronger than stainless steel. While stainless steel is not flexible enough to be used in many applications, the new aluminum alloy is highly flexible.
Yifan Zhang, a graduate student in materials engineering, and another member of the research team said that the new material can be used for the manufacture of automobile parts like engines which need to be wear- and corrosion-resistant.
The team introduced ‘stacking faults’, or distortions in the crystal structure of aluminum to make the new superstrong alloy. This resulted in the creation of nanotwins and complex stacking faults, like the 9R phase, which according to Qiang Li, another member of the research team, is a type of stacking fault that is otherwise rarely seen in aluminum.
Li said that the team introduced both twin boundaries and 9R phase within nanograins to the lightweight Al alloys making the end product very strong but highly deformable under stresses. Hence, it can be used for coating applications and when its use is scaled up, it can be used for bulk production of high-strength Al alloys.
Another technique the team used was to introduce iron or Ti atoms into aluminum’s crystal structure. The ‘nanotwinned’ aluminium-iron alloy coatings thus made emerged as one of the strongest aluminum alloys ever created, with strength that is comparable to high-strength steels. The Purdue University team published their findings recently in Advanced Materials and Scripta Materialia.
The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialisation has helped secured a patent for the technology and states that it is available for licensing.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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