Researchers from the Purdue University have claimed that they have developed a superstrong material that may change some manufacturing processes for the automobile and aerospace industries. The Purdue team, led by Xinghang Zhang, a professor in Purdue’s School of Materials Engineering, created high-strength aluminium (AI) alloy coatings.
According to Zhang, there is an increasing demand for such materials because of their advantages for automakers and aerospace industries. “We have created a very durable and lightweight aluminium alloy that is just as strong as, and possibly stronger than, stainless steel. Our aluminium alloy is lightweight and provides flexibility that stainless steel does not in many applications,” Zhang said.
Another member from the Purdue team, Yifan Zhang, a graduate student in materials engineering, said the aluminium alloy could be used for making wear- and corrosion-resistant automobile parts such as engines and coatings for optical lenses for specialised telescopes in the aerospace industry.
The researchers create the super-strong alloy by introducing ‘stacking faults’, or distortions in the crystal structure of aluminium, the distortions can lead to so-called nanotwins and complex stacking faults, such as 9R phase.
“The 9R type of stacking fault is usually rare in aluminium,” said Qiang Li, a doctoral student and member of the research team. “We introduced both twin boundaries and 9R phase within nanograins to the lightweight Al alloys that are both strong and highly deformable under stresses. Besides coating applications, we are also looking into scale-up potentials of bulk high-strength Al alloys.”
The team also created a way to develop the superstrong alloy coatings by introducing iron or Ti atoms into aluminium’s crystal structure. The resulting ‘nanotwinned’ aluminium-iron alloy coatings proved to be one of the strongest aluminium alloys ever created, comparable to high-strength steels, claimed the team. The findings were published 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.