Festivus has come and gone, and even though some of us might have already packed away our traditional pole, we may consider a different one for next year. If you’re like Frank Costanza and appreciate aluminum for your Festivus pole due to its strength to weight ratio, you might opt differently next year, as scientists invent new strong lightweight metal.
The new super-strong, superlight metal
A team of researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science came up with the new metal, which is actually a compound of magnesium and ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles.
The new compound has a very high strength to weight ratio, making it extremely strong and very, very light.
But it’s even more impressive than it sounds. The new metal’s specific modulus and strength are record breaking.
The modulus is the metal’s stiffness to weight ratio, while its strength in this context is defined as the level of weight it can withstand before breaking.
The metal is made out of approximately 86% aluminum and 14% ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles.
The complicated procedures
Xiaochun Li, lead researcher in the project, had a few things to say about the creation of the new metal.
Even though it was already known that nanoparticles had the potential to fortify the strength of metals, especially those lighter ones like magnesium and aluminum, nobody else was able to infuse the molten metal with the ceramic nanoparticles needed.
Usually, infusing metals with ceramic particles would result in them losing their plasticity, and thus becoming more easily breakable, but the new way of infusing developed by the team would allow the fusion of multiple types of metal with multiple types of ceramic particles.
The team used silicon carbide, usually used in industrial sawing blades, to enhance the magnesium’s strength and endurance, and still keep the metal’s light weight.
The metal’s loss of plasticity would usually be caused by the clumps of ceramic sticking together, forming clumps.
In order to fight this tendency, the researchers introduced the ceramic particles directly into the molten metal, making use of the kinetic energy dispersed during the process to counteract the clumping.
But that wasn’t enough, as the scientists also used high pressure torsion to compact and enhance the strength of the metal even further.
The result is a brand new composite metal, much stronger and lighter than anything know before.
And maybe, soon enough, the metal will become commercialized, so that we can get the best possible strength to weight ratio for or Festivus poles.
Image source: Flickr