London, Jan 10 (ANI): Scientists have developed an extremely tough amorphous material that could eventually replace steel in buildings, cars or bridges.
A metal alloy masquerading as a glass is the first material to be fabricated that is as strong and as tough as the toughest steel.
Marios Demetriou, a materials scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and his colleagues have developed the alloy that combines the best features of both by turning to 'amorphous metals'.
However, materials scientists now know that, ironically, generating an extremely large number of these bands could have the opposite effect - making the material tougher2.
"If you dramatically amplify the number of bands, they start to interlace and form networks.
"When new cracks evolve in the glassy metal, these networks cluster around the crack tips, blocking them from growing," said Demetriou.
On their 109th attempt, the team finally struck on the right mix for a glassy metal that can generate a large number of these bands. The successful recipe was mostly palladium, with a small fraction of silver and a smattering of other elements.
"We don't yet know why this particular composition works - it will take a deeper investigation to find out what chemical properties have been altered that affect the material's toughness," said Demetriou.
The team tested the glassy metal's toughness by monitoring how quickly and deeply a crack could move through it. "We found that it is as tough as the toughest steel," he said.
The work has been published in Nature Materials. (ANI)