KNOXVILLE—High-entropy alloys—substances constructed with equivalent quantities of five or more metals—might hold the key to future manufacturing and construction, and two researchers from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville could help pave the way.
Doctoral candidate Louis Santodonato, along with his adviser Professor Peter Liaw, both in materials science, did an extensive study into this class of materials, which are considerably lighter and less prone to fracture, corrosion, and oxidation than conventional alloys.
The pair used various methods to observe and model the atomic mixing behavior of high-entropy alloys, work that was picked up by the prestigious journal Nature Communications.
“Alloy specimens were laser-heated to the molten phase and solidified in situ during neutron scattering experiments,” Santodonato said. “We did this in order to observe the atomic mixing trends and compare them to theoretcial simulations.”
The full array of experiments included neutron and sychrotron X-ray scattering, electron microscopy, and atom-probe tomography.
Their work is crucial for engineering the next wave of alloys.
Breaking through the current stumbling blocks could make it easier to produce alloys that maintain strength at high temperatures, resist corrosion, and exhibit certain levels of toughness.
“Because of their strength and stability at elevated temperatures, high-entropy alloys have potential applications in extreme environments,” Santodonato said. “This could include things such as nuclear power plants, aircraft, casting dies, and machine tooling.”
Work was conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source and Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences in addition to UT.
The article detailing that work can be seen by visiting http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150120/ncomms6964/full/ncomms6964.html.
For more on the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, visit http://engr.utk.edu/mse.