April 19, 2003
Supercomputers Speed Discovery Of Better Alloys

A group of Japanese materials science researchers at Toyota Central Research and Development Laboratories in Nagakute, Japan have used computers to search thru large numbers of combinations of elements to discover alloys with qualities that exceed that of all known alloys.

While any other metal bends or breaks when experiencing forces well below theorized strength limits because of defects in their crystal structure, these new metals approach their ideal strength limits.

"You could not find this alloy just by mixing things and testing. It's just too many combinations -- millions of combinations," Shiflet said.

They have discovered titanium alloys which expand very little over a large temperature range and have other valuable qualities.

The alloys are strong yet unusually elastic, so they can deform more than other alloys and still return to their original shape. Engineers can also readily mold or bend the materials at room temperature into various shapes, a property called superplasticity.

The most interesting thing about this work is that it shows how the pace of material science research is going to accelerate. The ability to use computers in place of lab experiments is made possible by the continuing increase in speed of computers. Computers are getting fast enough to allow complex physical processes to be simulated. This allows the computer modelling of experiments. This ability to simulate physical experiments has the potential to accelerate many fields of science by orders of magnitude.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 April 19 01:35 AM  Materials Advances

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