BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Science is taking a step forward again with a new strong and lightweight metal created by a team of researchers from UCLA specialized in science and engineering.
With technology rapidly advancing especially when it comes to software, we need better hardware to sustain it. Let’s take as an example the history of cell-phones. When they first appeared, they were huge and very heavy. In time, companies tried their best to make them smaller and lighter. Then came the smartphones, which are becoming larger because they have to support more ‘intelligence’.
The same goes for many other devices or equipment such as laptops or cars and even airplanes and spacecraft. And it makes sense that along with more intelligent software, better materials and designs should be used in creating these devices.
Since most of the mentioned devices and machines are mostly made of metal, something had to be created to replace the traditional material which is, most of the times, too heavy for the purpose of the machine.
Thankfully, the new metal created by the researchers from UCLA is very light but also very strong and flexible which makes it a perfect match especially for airplanes and cars the key being to make them lighter but still keeping them secure.
The metal which is made of a combination of magnesium with ceramic silicon carbide was created using a new technique of dispersing and stabilizing nanoparticles introduced in molten metals. The researchers also created a scalable manufacturing method which could mean this is going to be the first of many other numerous lightweight metals created.
Although the idea that nanoparticles could make light metals stronger without influencing their plasticity, no one has actually manage to do it until now. So what makes this new metal light and strong and flexible?
Magnesium is the lightest metal having only two-thirds of the density aluminum has. The nanoparticles of silicon carbide are the one giving this metal strength. Silicon carbide is a very hard ceramic used to manufacture industrial cutting blades.
Beside great strength and lightness, the new metal was also very stable at high temperatures. The plasticity is given by the ceramic particles at nanoscale. It looks like the scale of the ceramic particles is very important as microscale particles could actually lead to loss of plasticity.
All in all, scientists and tech people are looking forward to using this metal in building light airplanes that could fly faster and be more fuel-efficient.
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