Stronger, lightweight magnesium alloys
Researchers from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, developed a new technique for creating stronger, lightweight magnesium alloys that have potential structural applications in the automobile and aerospace industries.
Engineers constantly seek strong, lightweight materials for use in cars and planes to improve fuel efficiency. Their goal is to develop structural materials with a high “specific strength,” which is defined as a material’s strength divided by its density. In other words, specific strength measures how much load it can carry per unit of weight.
Researchers focused on magnesium alloys because magnesium is very light; on its own, though, it is not very strong. In the study, however, researchers were able to strengthen the material by introducing “nanospaced stacking faults.” These are essentially a series of parallel fault-lines in the crystalline structure of the alloy that isolate any defects in that structure. This increases the overall strength of the material by approximately 200%.