Researchers have created a new metal by infusing magnesium with ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles. The infusion resulted in the formation of a high-strength super metal which is extremely light in weight. The metal was developed in the labs of Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The researchers were able to create this metal by using an innovative way to disperse and stabilize nanoparticles in molten metal.
"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 Xiaochun Li, the principal investigator on the research and Raytheon Chair in Manufacturing Engineering at UCLA. Li added that the new way developed by the researchers will help in meeting today’s energy and sustainability needs by improving the performance of metals.
The new silicon carbide-infused magnesium has the highest ever strength, with astounding weight-to-durability ratio. The new metal can tolerate extremely high temperatures as well. To resolve of concern of nanoscale particles clustering together, instead of dispersing in the molten metal, the scientists dispersed the particles into a molten magnesium zinc alloy. The super metal thus created is a combination of approximately 14% silicon carbide nanoparticles, with 86% magnesium. Since, magnesium does not fall under the category of a ‘rare resource’, its use can be increased without any threat to the environment.