Metallurgists have the knowledge how to make a chunk of metal harder. The techniques employed are bending, twisting, running between two rollers or pounding with a hammer. To employ these techniques, it involves breaking up the grain structure of the metal.
In a new development, a team of researchers at Brown University have found a way to customize grain structures of metals from the core. A paper published in the journal Chem, the researchers demonstrate a technique for breaking individual metal nanoclusters together to create solid hunks of metal at a macro-scale. In fact, the mechanical testing of the metals fabricated using the technique showcases them to have strength four times than naturally occurring ones.
“Meanwhile, hammering and other techniques of hardening are all top-down ones to alter grain structure. Using one of these techniques, it is very difficult to control the grain size that is obtained at the end of the technique,” said the co-author of the research.
To develop the new technique, researchers created nanoparticle-size building blocks that combine together when they are squeezed. Using this technique, it allows to obtain grains of uniform sizes that can be precisely adjusted for improved properties.
Furthermore, the researchers created coins of centimeter scale. For this, researchers used of palladium, gold, silver and other metals. These coins could be useful for making high-performance electrodes, coating material or thermoelectric generators, concluded the researchers.
The easy scalability of the process to make extremely hard materials or larger industrial parts is possible, opine the researchers.
In fact, the basis of the process is chemical treatment administered to the nanoparticle building blocks.