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September 13, 2019 Friday 12:30:55 PM IST

New way to strengthen metals

Science Innovations

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have demonstrated that the rules of metal-bending aren't so hard and fast after all. They have described the phenomena in the journal Nature Communications.

Normal metals bend because dislocations are able to move, allowing a material to deform without ripping apart every single bond inside its crystal lattice at once.

Strengthening techniques typically restrict the motion of dislocations. So it was quite a shock when researchers discovered that the material samarium cobalt - known as an intermetallic - bent easily, even though its dislocations were locked in place.

Instead, bending samarium cobalt caused narrow bands to form inside the crystal lattice, where molecules assumed a free-form ‘amorphous’ configuration instead of the regular, grid-like structure in the rest of the metal. Those amorphous bands allowed the metal to bend.


Their surprising discovery not only upends previous notions about how metals deform, but could help guide the creation of stronger, more durable materials.

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