Listen: Introducing Faults Can Strengthen Aluminum
When it comes to aluminum, our typical encounter with this material is usually found in soft drink cans daily. However, researchers from Purdue have found that even though Aluminum is nice and light, they have developed new alloys to where if they introduce faults within the material, it can not only provide a stronger feel, but also be put to work when it comes to corrosion-resistant coatings. If you look at things from a microscopic standpoint, you can see that the metals that make it up utilize crystal atoms stacked up on top of each other which creates a “stacking fault.” These stacking faults reinforce the structure of the material making it stronger, but there is a problem that researchers from Purdue are running into where the aluminum reverts to correct the faults itself. This refers to the issue of having “high stacking fault energy.” After conducting two studies where they used a process called magnetron sputtering, they found that the aluminum-iron alloy resulted in the stronger material of its kind ever made, even surpassing stainless steels. With these results, there is a lot of potential commercial impact to be considered!
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