A team of chemists at Syracuse University led by Matthew M. Maye and Wenjie Wu have developed a new approach for synthesizing nanomaterials, and more specifically, nanomaterials carrying the properties of stainless steel which may be utilized for a wide array of applications.
It’s an important development in regards to manipulating the form, structure and size of nanomaterials, and in turn, how they react with other materials, and how they can be effectively fabricated and then put to use. It may also play a major role in the future of metal fabrication.
The researchers began with a pre-synthesized crystalline metallic iron nanoparticle core, and then added thin shells of chromium around the iron core. At high temperatures, the iron and chromium annealed, diffusing into one another to form a single iron-chromium alloy shell, with a stainless steel-like interface.
Here, a core/alloy material is produced in the place of core/shell nanoparticles. An iron-chromium oxide shell is formed leaving behind an un-oxidized iron core, with a void separating the core from the shell.
This new approach to fabricating alloy nanomaterials may serve as a replacement to colloidal synthesis, a wet-chemical approach based on the dispersion of nanoparticles of one substance inside another, such as a glass-like fluid.
What may be the most important facet of this is that stainless steel resists oxidation. Meanwhile, fabricating alloys at the nanoscale has proven to be proven to be quite difficult due to the ease with which it oxidizes.
As such, this new solution may provide for an effective, efficient and repeatable mechanism for fabricating nanomaterials consisting of metal alloys. A more diverse collection of alloy nanomaterials may be able to be produced as a result, and the potential usages and applications of these alloy nanomaterials would be quite far reaching.
Imagine a world a few years or a decade down the line where a full assortment of robust metal alloy nanomaterials can be created on command.
Being able to reliably control and fine-tune the structure of steel at a nano level, for example, or efficiently doing the same with some of the recently developed alloys and materials which have garnered attention as the strongest materials on the planet, would provide for unheard of advancements.
This would certainly include the fields of nanobiotechnology and biomedicine, while there would be endless possibilities from there; perhaps it’s a new and far more durable vehicle for space travel, for instance.
Metal fabrication has always been an evolving field-new tools and processes, new materials, new technology and more. Honing the latest developments into repeatable and efficient advancements certainly takes time. However, synthesizing alloy nanomaterials may have the potential to revolutionize the limits of metal fabrication at an incredible pace if it’s more fully explored, understood and developed.
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