Scientists managed to make a nickel leaf with nanoscale pores, which is as strong as titanium, but five times easier. Since his structure resembles natural materials, it was called «metal wood».
Almost all natural materials have defects in the location of atoms, which reduces their strength. If each titanium particle was perfect, it would be more stronger than it produced now. Researchers from Universities Cambridge, Illinois and Pennsylvania jointly studied this feature and decided to use it to create a new architecture with accurate geometric design of the structure to obtain the necessary properties of the new material.
The production process begins with the manufacture of tiny plastic forms, a large-hundred-nanometer diameter, which is placed in the water where they float. Share liquid evaporate so that the forms are downtrend and formed an ordered crystalline frame. Using electroplating, engineers fill emptiness in plastic nickel, and then melted with a solvent form, leaving only a network of metal struts. On the resulting structure, you can further apply various functional coatings.
Since about 70% of the volume of the new material is empty space, the density of metal wood from nickel is extremely small in relation to its strength. According to the researchers, the product with a brick size can even swim in water, and its structure resembles natural material, as it has a similar porous structure.
The width of one nickel rack is 10 nm or 100 atoms in cross section. Thus, scientists managed to make a foil size of 1 cm2, which consisted of 1 billion individual elements. However, so far the scale of production is limited, so the team continues to improve the technology in order to start creating larger products in commercial volumes. As soon as the infrastructure is formed, due to the scale and use of inexpensive materials, the metal wood will become an affordable product.
An increase in the volume of products themselves is also necessary for further testing. Engineers want to explore how large structures made of metal wood will respond to random defects: to fake like metal or break as glass. Scientists also plan to carry out experiments using 70% of the empty space, filling it with materials that accumulate energy or alive organisms.
Previously, we also reported on Maryland University Engineers