Australian researchers in discovery of revolutionary ultra-lightweight alloy

Australian and Chinese researchers have discovered a “stainless magnesium” alloy that could lead to huge weight savings in vehicles and other manufactured products.

The ABC’s AM reports on research in a paper published today in Nature Materials, led by University of NSW School of Materials Science and Engineering Professor Michael Ferry, detailing an alloy that could lead to hundreds of kilograms saved in vehicles.

Professor Ferry described the structure of the alloy as highly unusual at the atomic level.

“I can't go into the details but it's a very unusual solid nanostructure, we call that, and what it generates on the surface is a material that's very single phased and uniform and the corrosion product that actually protects the underlying metal is a lithium carbonate film,” he told AM.

“It forms naturally on the material surface. You scratch it off, it reforms naturally again. So it's similar to what you would have in a piece of stainless steel.”

According to the paper’s abstract, the novel alloy is an ultra-low density magnesium and lithium-based alloy with superior corrosion resistance to anything before it.

Professor Nick Birbilis (who also contributed to the research, along with Gang Sha,Yu WangJohn E. DanielsYang Xiao and Wanqiang Xusaid commercialisation was inevitable, and the alloy would find its way into products “perhaps within a year”. 

To read the paper, "A high-specific-strength and corrosion-resistant magnesium alloy", click here.

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