Washington: A newly developed blend of magnesium and ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles is likely to bring about a revolution in the production of airplanes, spacecraft and cars.
A team led by researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has created a super-strong yet light structural metal with extremely high specific strength and modulus, or stiffness-to-weight ratio.
The new metal is composed of magnesium infused with a dense and even dispersal of ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles. It could be used to make lighter airplanes, spacecraft, and cars, helping to improve fuel efficiency, as well as in mobile electronics and biomedical devices.
To create the super-strong but lightweight metal, the team found a new way to disperse and stabilize nanoparticles in molten metal. They also developed a scalable manufacturing method that could pave the way for more high-performance lightweight metals.
Xiaochun Li, the principal investigator, said that with an infusion of physics and materials processing, their 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.
The new metal (more accurately called a metal nanocomposite) is about 14 percent silicon carbide nanoparticles and 86 percent magnesium. The researchers noted that magnesium is an abundant resource and that scaling up its use would not cause environmental damage.
The research is published today in Nature.