Rapid cooling leads to stronger alloys

July 10, 2013

A team of researchers from the University of Rostock in Germany has developed a new way to rapidly produce high strength metallic alloys, at a lower cost using less energy than before. It's expected that this breakthrough will profoundly change how we produce components used in a diverse range of applications; including transport and medical devices.

The research, which appears in the latest issue of the open access journal Materials Today, reports on the first Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS) system with an integrated gas quenching mechanism, capable of alternating the phase compositions and retaining the smallest grain features inside a structured metallic alloy.

SPS is a technique used to fuse fine powders into a dense solid material, by placing powder into a mold (or die) and simultaneously applying pulses of electric current and to it. By varying SPS cooling rates, it is possible to control the phase and grain sizes in a material, and so, to tune its . In their study, the team of researchers led by Dr. Eberhard Burkel, a Professor of Physics of New Materials, demonstrated that rapidly cooling a material directly after SPS fabrication can produce a material with enhanced hardness, strength and ductility.

The new rapid cooling SPS system is based on a commercially available design, modified to include a series of gas inlet nozzles. After sintering, most SPS systems are left to cool naturally, or are flooded with argon gas. The system blasts into the chamber at high speeds, rapidly cooling the material.

To demonstrate the utility of the system, Grade 5 Titanium (Ti-6Al-4V) – known as the "workhorse" of the titanium industry – was produced at different cooling rates. The most-rapidly cooled alloy was found to be up to 12% harder than the naturally-cooled alloy, and with an improved ductility up to 34±3%. Ti-6Al-4V is the most common in use worldwide, with applications in the aerospace, biomedical and marine industries.

In their article the researchers explain, "This high-ductile alloy offers unprecedented opportunities for the easy manufacturing of complex shapes for biomedical and new engineering applications."

First author of the study, Dr. Faming Zhang, said "The system will play a major role in the production of novel materials, from metals, alloys, metal matrix composites to micro- and nanostructured semiconductors."

Explore further: Engineers achieve longstanding goal of stable nanocrystalline metals

More information: This article is "The potential of rapid cooling spark plasma sintering for metallic materials" by Faming Zhang, Michael Reich, Olaf Kessler and Eberhard Burkel. It appears in Materials Today, Volume 16, Issue 5, Page 192-197 (2013)

Related Stories

Iron-platinum alloys could be new-generation hard drives

May 20, 2013

Meeting the demand for more data storage in smaller volumes means using materials made up of ever-smaller magnets, or nanomagnets. One promising material for a potential new generation of recording media is an alloy of iron ...

New product features with metallic nanoparticles

June 20, 2013

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is developing new techniques for the production of metallic nanoparticles. VTT's new production reactor, operating at atmospheric pressure, reduces the production costs of multicomponent ...

Scientists reveal structure of a supercooled liquid

July 5, 2013

If a liquid metal alloy is cooled slowly it will eventually form a solid phase. Before it solidifies, however, the liquid undergoes a liquid-liquid transition to a phase in which it has the same concentration but a more ...

Recommended for you

New path forward for next-generation lithium-ion batteries

May 31, 2016

In the quest for a radically better lithium-ion battery, a promising direction is the so-called "lithium-rich" cathode, in which the cathode contains a higher proportion of lithium than normal. While it has the potential ...

New catalyst found for clean energy fuel

May 30, 2016

A team of UConn chemists led by professors Steven Suib and James Rusling has developed a new material that could make hydrogen capture more commercially viable and provide a key element for a new generation of cheaper, light-weight ...

Light can 'heal' defects in some solar cells

May 24, 2016

A family of compounds known as perovskites, which can be made into thin films with many promising electronic and optical properties, has been a hot research topic in recent years. But although these materials could potentially ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.