A materials research team at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has successfully developed the first-ever supra-nano magnesium alloy
that’s 10 times stronger than conventional crystalline magnesium alloy, has super-deformation capacity double that of magnesium-based metallic glass--and can be developed into biodegradable materials suitable for implanting in the human body.
The innovation builds on the team’s successful development of the supra-nano-dual-phase glass-crystal alloy film structure. This material has a dual phase structure smaller than 10nm, which the research group named supra-nano-dual-phase glass-crystal (SNDP-GC). Supra-nano means that the size of each phase is less than 10nm, and glass is in the general amorphous phase. This is a new family of alloy structures--a world first.
Principle investigator Professor Lu Jian, Vice-President (Research and Technology) and Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering, explained that the new alloy was produced using a special magnetron-sputtering technology, and its strength was enhanced by modifying the volume proportion of the crystalline phase and amorphous phase in the material. The successful fabrication of the SNDP-GC material has proved that a novel structure can be created by carefully controlling the fabrication technique, which paves the way for developing other supra-nano-structured materials with advanced physical and chemical properties.
Professor Lu said the new material has potential for use in biodegradable implants. “The Mg-based SNDP-GC deposited Mg alloy could be used as a new prototype for implants with excellent wear resistance. Patients would not have to undergo further surgery to remove the parts.”
The alloy could also be used as a coating material for artificial joints for knees and hips because of its excellent wear and corrosion resistance, and its potential to reduce the risk of allergic reactions to metallic joints.
The low-density property of magnesium alloy has made it a desirable lightweight material for consumer electronics, such as smart phones, tablets and laptops, as well as in aerospace and automotive products.
Science has long been working to improve magnesium’s strength and wear resistance, and the breakthrough alloy can sustain pressure of more than 300 kilograms of force per square millimeter, and has super-high wear-resistance.
News of the world’s strongest magnesium alloy innovation was published in the academic journal Nature.
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