Aussie scientists help build new ‘super material’

Australian scientists have helped develop a new 'super material' that is twice as strong as high strength steel.

Science Alert reports researchers from Australia, China, and the US have developed the new material by harnessing the properties of nanowires.


University of Western Australia professor Yinong Liu said nanowires exhibit “extraordinary mechanical properties” and the strength of the materials approached “theoretical limits”.


Liu said scientists have previously attempted to create engineering products reinforced by nanowires, but all attempts to date have failed.


He said the reason previous attempts had failed was because while nanowires were able stretch under high pressure, the materials around them could not.


New study has overcome the problem by using the NiTi matrix, which is a shape memory alloy that matches the stretching ability of nanowires.


Liu said the alloy was “not totally new” but had never been applied to this field of research.


“It is no stronger than other common metals but it has one special property, that is its martensitic transformation,” he said.


“The transformation can produce a deformation compatible to the elastic deformation of the nanowires without plastic damage to the structure of the composite.


“This effectively gives the nanowires a chance to do their job, that is, to bear the high load and to be super strong.”


Using the new method researchers have made materials twice as strong as high strength steel with strain limits five to ten times higher than the best steels currently available.


The new material opens the door for a range of new applications, and its potential for the medical and electronic industries has already been underlined.

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