Scientists from Brown University (USA) have developed a new method for obtaining metals with outstanding strength characteristics. They managed to solve the problem of creating an ideal metal grain and joining such grains into a single whole without significant energy consumption. We are talking, no less, about a new design technology using nanoparticles.
In the case of metals, the strength of an alloy is directly related to the size of the base grain and how they bond together. The smaller the grains and the closer they are to each other, the stronger the material. Traditional methods, such as forging or pressure, compress the coarse, loose grains, compacting the metal structure. This is a gross impact, and it is extremely difficult to control the size of individual grains.
American physicists suggested going a different way and starting with the creation of the grains themselves in the form of complexes of nanoparticles from atoms of different metals. The result is a kind of “building blocks” with given dimensions and shape. They are chemically treated to remove organic ligand compounds from the surface and allow the grains to contact directly with each other. Under such conditions, relatively low temperatures and pressures are sufficient for the grains to be sintered into a strong alloy.
To demonstrate the technology, “coins” were made from atoms of gold, silver and palladium, which turned out to be four times stronger than similar products made of ordinary metal. In addition, scientists have managed to obtain metallic glass from only one component by assembling a crystal structure from palladium atoms. Inventors are now exploring how to scale their technology to use it to create full-size tools for industry.