New study from RMIT University PhD student unlocks the incredible potential of bulk metallic glass.
Despite the name, metallic glass has nothing to do with shiny windows. It is a solid metal alloy that is super strong – with enormous potential for structural use – from building planes to nano (incredibly small) electronics.
Yet while these new composites are at the forefront of materials development thanks to superior mechanical and structural properties, they are also brittle and wildly unpredictable. Harnessing their strengths is proving elusive as their non-crystalline atomic structure is difficult to pin down.
These alloys can also suffer catastrophic failure under force. That’s a problem.
Which is why RMIT PhD student MM Ali Rafique has investigated ways to predict the behaviour of different metal matrix composite materials and therefore, of metallic glass.
“Their performance is dubious and requires extensive experimentation to draw conclusions. In our recent study we show you can overcome this pitfall with a simulation,” Rafique said.
Along with fellow researchers, Dong Qiu and Mark Easton from the School of Engineering, Rafique developed a simple tool to measure the microstructural features of metallic glass when cooled from a liquid state. The study was recently published in the Material Research Society’s journal, MRS Advances.
“It is a quantitative mathematical model that yields information about numerical parameters necessary to understand the behaviour of each individual element. It’s simple and easy to use,” Rafique said.
“It has potential benefits to the manufacturing industry, for foundries and also in steel making and chemicals development.”
Professor Calum Drummond, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, said the study was a big step forward for industry.
“We now have a model that explains individual elements’ behaviour in these multi-component alloys. We encourage this sort of work as it should have a broad impact on industry.”
Story: Jane Kenrick