Novel Dual-Phase Alloy Is Promising Extreme Resistance to Fractures

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An international team of researchers has created a novel dual-phase alloy that is extremely resistant to fracturing, thus making it ideal for deployment in a wide range of critical applications. Moreover, its discovery opens up the way to developing similar focused-purpose alloys that could feature other, equally impressive physical characteristics and mechanical properties.

The new material is called ‘DS: EHEA’, and it’s a eutectic high entropy alloy that features multiscale spatial heterogeneities. Through rigorous experimentation, the material engineers found out that a particular aluminum-iron-cobalt-nickel alloy solidified in a hierarchically organized herringbone micropattern that gives it an extreme resistance to fracturing.

This is because the particular micropattern helps in distributing stresses at the points where cracks start to form, never allowing them to propagate much as they are stopped in a large number of branches around the point of the formation. The same pattern thing is what gives the alloy three times the maximum elongation of the typical, but this is less valuable from a practical perspective.

DS: EHEA could be used mainly in structural applications where the simultaneous existence of strong, ductile, durable, and damage tolerant characteristics is highly desirable but has never been made available by any material. In tensioned structural elements, microscale cracks can develop and propagate quickly, causing an out-of-control catastrophe. Stopping these cracks from growing and keeping them at negligible sizes would revolutionize structural engineering.

Of course, resistance to fracturing would be useful for any application that deals with material fatigue problems, pressure vessels, bridges, large ships, and other fields where brittleness is a big issue. For now, the team is in the stage of publishing their paper, so there have been no details about when the material will be made more widely available or when to expect the first real-world applications.

Bianca Van der Watt

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