NEW YORK (TIP): Imagine glasses that are strong as steel and can be used for producing hard, durable and seamless complex shapes that no other metal processing method can. Scientists at Yale University have devised a dramatically faster way of identifying and characterising complex alloys known as bulk metallic glasses (BMGs), a versatile type of pliable glass that is stronger than steel.
Using traditional methods, it usually takes a full day to identify a single metal alloy appropriate for making BMGs. The new method allows researchers to screen about 3,000 alloys per day and simultaneously ascertain certain properties, such as melting temperature and malleability. “Instead of fishing with a single hook, we are throwing a big net. This should dramatically hasten the discovery of BMGs and new uses for them,” said Jan Schroers, a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Yale University.
Already used in watch components, golf clubs, and other sporting goods, BMGs also have likely applications in biomedical technology, such as implants and stents, mobile phones and other consumer electronics. According to Schroers, there are an estimated 20 million possible BMG alloys. About 120,000 metallic glasses have been produced and characterized to date. Using standard methods, it would take about 4,000 years to process all possible combinations, Schroers has calculated. The new method could reduce the time to about four years. Ideal BMGs offer plasticity during the manufacturing process, durability, and biocompatibility, along with affordability, Schroers emphasised in the study published in the journal Nature Materials.