Tough metals go soft

Jul 06, 2005

Research by a University of Queensland PhD student is helping shape the materials of the future.
Andrew Blake recently returned from The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) annual meeting and exhibition held in San Francisco where he won the award for Best Student Paper.
His research has helped paint a clearer picture of the hardening and softening effects of magnesium when high concentrations of aluminium and zinc are added. It may open the door to new alloys that could be used in industry for machines such as automobiles.

The paper was a joint collaboration between Mr Blake and his supervisor Associate Professor Carlos Cáceres, who was awarded a $170,000 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant to develop the research.

“Normally when you add a solid to a metal it gets harder but in this case, using different crystal orientations [the atoms stacked in a certain way], it can get both harder and softer,” Mr Blake said.

“If you can get the hardening and softening working better then it will be easier to process magnesium in different ways so it will be easier to process more parts out of it, whether they be automobile parts or other parts.”

The 2005 TMS exhibition presented the latest breakthroughs in materials research with more than 2000 individual presentations that addressed current and future advances in the development and production of traditional materials.

Mr Blake, who is in the final year of his PhD studies in the School of Engineering, said his paper had been warmly received, with many questions from other delegates.

The research completes the picture on how hardening and softening occur in magnesium alloys and will help engineers to design more ductile alloys.

Dr Cáceres said the results of the research could have a significant impact on the way magnesium alloys were used in current technology.

“The density of magnesium is about half that of aluminium. This makes magnesium a very attractive material when it comes to reducing the weight of cars and saving gasoline,” Dr Cáceres said.

“There is currently a boom in magnesium applications in the automobile industry and Australia has a growing strategic interest in the development of magnesium alloys technology.”

Source: University of Queensland

Explore further: LEGO bricks build better mathematicians

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mysterious glowworm found in Peruvian rainforest

2 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer has discovered what appears to be a new type of bioluminescent larvae. He told members of the press recently that he was walking near a camp in the Peruvian ...

Recommended for you

Pop music heritage contributes to the formation of identity

3 hours ago

The musical rebels of the past are today's museum pieces. Pop music is increasingly penetrating heritage institutions such as museums and archives. That is apparent from the PhD research of Arno van der Hoeven. On Thursday ...

Helping older employees stay in their jobs

4 hours ago

Factors that can hinder older employees from continuing to work include workload, a poor memory and the pensionable age-effect. The Job-Exposure Matrix is a newly developed instrument that provides an easy way to chart the ...

Explainer: What is a small private online course?

5 hours ago

If you have studied an online course at a university over the past couple of decades, you've probably already experienced a SPOC, or Small Private Online Course. SPOC is a new term for an old concept, which appears to be frustrating members of the distance edu ...

User comments : 0

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.