March 11, 2011

2 Min Read
Nanostructured Metal Alloys May Be 100x More Responsive than Current Materials

The crystal structure of nanoparticles embedded in an alloy can be realigned under an electric or magnetic field, which in-turn deforms the material. (Image: Rutgers)

Computer modeling performed by researchers at Rutgers (New Brunswick, NJ) indicates that decomposed two-phase nanostructured alloys could be 100x more responsive in certain applications than current metals. This class of functional materials shows potential for improving stents and imaging equipment components.

The two-phase nanostructured alloys are created by exposing metals to high temperatures, at which nanoparticles of one crystal structure are embedded into another type of crystal structure. After this process, the metals are cooled. 

By embedding these nanoparticles in the alloys, the resulting high-strength metal material can deform in response to applied stress and then snap back into its original place once the stress is removed. This 'springy' property of the nanostructured alloys, according to the researchers, make it a potentially better option for stents than current materials. It could also improve energy efficiency in piezoelectric and magnetorestrictive components for such applications as ultrasound compared with traditional materials that require energy input to restore their original shapes, the scientists note.

In addition to being highly elastic, the nanostructured alloys are capable of converting electrical and magnetic energy into movement or vice versa. They are also tunable.

Building on this research, the scientists will next test the results of their computer simulation on actual metals.

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