The steel alloy was forged from metal powders placed in a graphite mold. Through a process known as spark plasma sintering, the materials were pressurized at 100 MPa, and exposed to 10,000 Amperes at a 1,165 Fahrenheit.
Called SAM2X5-630, the iron-based amorphous steel alloy was developed by researchers from the University of California, San Diego; the University of Southern California; and the California Institute of Technology. And the researchers claim the material boasts the highest recorded elastic limit of any steel alloy.
The development and testing of the material was the subject of a study published in Nature Scientific Reports.
The fabrication process “created small crystalline regions that are only a few nanometers in size, with hints of structure, which researchers believe are key to the material’s ability to withstand stress,” according to the University of California, San Diego. “This finding is promising because it shows that the properties of these types of metallic glasses can be fine-tuned to overcome shortcomings such as brittleness, which have prevented them from becoming commercially applicable on a large scale.”
According to researchers, the material can withstand pressure and stress up to 12.5 giga-Pascals without deforming permanently. And that was for a roughly 1.5- to 1.8-mm thick piece. The material was tested by firing copper plates from a gas gun at 500 to 1,300 m/sec.
Comparatively, stainless steel’s elastic limit is 0.2 gig-Pascals, and tungsten carbide’s is 4.5 giga-Pascals. Meanwhile, diamonds are an amazing 60 giga-Pascals.
“The fact that the new materials performed so well under shock loading was very encouraging and should lead to plenty of future research opportunities,” said University of Southern California’s Veronica Eliasson, in a statement.
The researchers said they believe the material may have a variety of applications, from body armor to meteor-resistant casings for satellites.
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