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New Titanium Alloy Bends the Rules

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the joys-of-materials-science dept.

Science 57

BinaryForces writes "According to Yahoo Takashi Saito and his colleagues at the Toyota Central Research and Development Laboratories in Japan have developed a super alloy with unheard of strength and flexibility. It's not only light, but it can be stretched to more than 2.5 times its original length and return to its previous size. Heat causes almost no expansion. It can be bent and straightened repeatedly without becoming brittle. And the cool part is it was developed using high power computation instead of the traditional trial and error method. More details at Nature's website."

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57 comments

fp! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5782118)

i claim this fp in the name of George Nayef Kayatta, R.M. (renaissance man)! [pricelessart.org]

Interesting uses (2, Insightful)

toygeek (473120) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782147)

Its light, its strong, and returns to shape. I could see how car suspensions could be made infinitely lighter with such a metal. Imagine, not needing springs anymore, the suspension links ARE the springs ;)

Things like this are what will make electric cars and extremely effecient cars possible, I think.

Re:Interesting uses (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5782226)

infinitely lighter

That would make them flying cars.

Re:Interesting uses (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5783506)

...with unheard of strength and flexibility. It's not only light, but it can be stretched to more than 2.5 times its original length and return to its previous size. ... It can be bent and straightened repeatedly without becoming brittle.

Sounds like my penis...

MOD UP! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5783816)

Shit where are my mod points today, it's funny cause it's TRUE!

Re:Interesting uses (1)

multiplexo (27356) | more than 11 years ago | (#5786831)

Actually if you made them infinitely lighter wouldn't they have zero rest mass? If this were the case you would have flying cars that travelled at the speed of light. I need one of these.

Re:Interesting uses (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782597)

It doesn't say about compression or twist strength tho...

Re:Interesting uses (4, Insightful)

zero_offset (200586) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782649)

Imagine, not needing springs anymore, the suspension links ARE the springs

You'll always want springs, they're too useful to get rid of. And as you note, if you made other parts of the suspension do double-duty as springs, well, you still have springs.

The important question isn't to speculate whether you can get rid of springs, it's to speculate whether you can make better springs, either by making them more efficient, or equally efficient with a weight or cost savings. Unfortunately the site is already slashdotted, so I don't know if the article mentions those kind of details, but if it doesn't, it's a huge assumption you're making. Many materials can return to a reasonable facsimilie of their original shape after deformation, but to do so repeatedly over time in a highly predictable and consistent fashion at rates in ranges suited to a suspension system... well, it's almost impossible to beat a plain old cheap steel coils. Even high-end SAE 9254 hot-formed steel racing-grade springs are only a couple hundred bucks for a set of four...

This reminds me of the predictions (I know you're not predicting) that eventually we'd all be driving around in Nitinol ("memory metal") [dsl-online.de] cars that after a fender bender could be popped back into shape with a blow dryer...

Re:Interesting uses (2, Insightful)

sigep_ohio (115364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782772)

that is exactly what i was thinking. what kind of fatigue properties does this have. cars(and most other machines) don't just get loaded once and thats it. They get loaded again and again. often cyclically. Things can have great static properties, but their fatigue strength needs to be there also to be useful.

Re:Interesting uses (1)

toygeek (473120) | more than 11 years ago | (#5783274)

Read the article once it comes back up, my post will make MUCH more sense after you have.

Re:Interesting uses (1)

caouchouc (652238) | more than 11 years ago | (#5783917)

It's not that flexible. You're still going to need shocks on your car.

Re:Interesting uses (1)

Kibo (256105) | more than 11 years ago | (#5785775)

Stiffness or stiffness per unit wieght, or per unit volume are what springs are all about.

This sounds like a typical shape memory alloy, aside from the amount of strain that is able to be recovered, exhibiting superplasticity.

The Russians years ago even made a cool movie of the shape memory effect with their giant sychrotron x-ray sources.

Aother Japanese Godzilla (0)

Zerocool3001 (664976) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782148)

The specifics of this metal sound almost fantastical. Are we so sure that this is even possible? Despite the fact that it was produced using computer modeling (whoa, what a neat Idea. Wish I'd thought of that one).

But Will I... (1)

GTRacer (234395) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782157)

...have to wait for a flexible OLED display before I can get this in a TiBook?

GTRacer
- Missed it by that much!

Space Elevator! (1)

AuraSeer (409950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782179)

This stuff is tough, flexible, light, and easily recovers after being deformed. Seems to me that it could rival the theoretical nanotube composites, as material for a space elevator.

Re:Space Elevator! (2, Funny)

TrebleJunkie (208060) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782301)

... or skidproof metal underpants!!!

Re:Space Elevator! (1)

spencerogden (49254) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782732)

I would guess that carbon nanotubes still win out in the weight/strength contest, which is the most important factor for the elevator.

Re:Space Elevator! (1)

grannyknot (604904) | more than 11 years ago | (#5787299)

> it could rival the theoretical nanotube composites

Carbon nanotubes are, at least in theory, one huge molecule, where these new alloys are still ionically bonded atoms.

And as we all know, covalent (molecular) bonds are much stronger.

Re:Space Elevator! (1)

AuraSeer (409950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5787570)

The cable for a space elevator won't just be one long molecule, though. No one expects to grow thousand-mile nanotubes in the forseeable future; even making one millimeters in length is a nontrivial problem.

Current thinking is that the cable will consist of tightly-packed nanotubes held together by some kind of epoxy. One of the major issues is figuring out what that epoxy will be. It needs to hold nanotubes tight enough that they don't slip longitudinally, without adding too much weight or negating carbon's other advantages.

(I'd grab quotes from the recent /. stories on space elevators, if the search function worked...)

MMMMMM (2, Funny)

borgboy (218060) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782182)

Yummy titanium Katana for Hiro!

Obvously, the server isnt built out of this stuff (1, Offtopic)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782196)

Damned slashdot effect.

mwa ha ha (5, Funny)

danratherfan (624592) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782200)

"Takashi Saito and his colleagues at the Toyota Central Research and Development Laboratories in Japan have developed a super alloy with unheard of strength and flexibility. It's not only light, but it can be stretched to more than 2.5 times its original length and return to its previous size. "

I allready have a material like that, but it isn't a metal. (Well it can feel like one)

Re:mwa ha ha (4, Funny)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782397)

I allready have a material like that, but it isn't a metal. (Well it can feel like one)

Yeah.

I guess the difference is, this miracle metal will have a use.

And outside of your Mom's basement, no less.

: )

Re:mwa ha ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5782603)

The difference being that, in Saito's case, the light weight makes it suitable for more than one purpose.

Re:mwa ha ha (2, Funny)

blazin (119416) | more than 11 years ago | (#5783778)

But can you hammer a six-inch spike through a board with it?

Re:mwa ha ha (1)

Ratface (21117) | more than 11 years ago | (#5788636)

Nope - but I *can* hammer a six-inch spike though it *with* a board!

Those Japanese scientists ... (2, Funny)

torpor (458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782202)

... and their ocean-dwelling UFO-crashing alien masters sure have been up to some good work lately!

Seriously though, how long until we see this metal in Oakleys, I wonder ...

Re:Those Japanese scientists ... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 11 years ago | (#5783292)

and just think, Giant Robot can save rocket fuel by bouncing around on feet made of this stuff instead of flying.

Re:Those Japanese scientists ... (1)

grannyknot (604904) | more than 11 years ago | (#5787316)

>how long until we see this metal in Oakleys

Given Oakley's policy of "finding the weirdest shit possible to put in our frames," I'm sort of surprised it's not already in their catalogue.

Other applications? (3, Interesting)

Tropaios (244000) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782239)

The articles specifically mention use in ultralightweight springs, as one example, or other "precision instruments for use in rugged environments such as in outer space". My question is would this new alloy be so limited to these applications or could an alloy like this affect the design of buildings or bridges? Or have greater effect in making lightweight cars or other common products.

I am neither a metallugist or an engineer, but I could only imagine this being used in a few years for just about everything much as "aircraft aluminum" is used in making canoes and ski poles.

I'd think the uses for this could be very far reaching if it can be made affordable enough for common use. I see lighter more durable touring bikes, motorcycles, cars, planes from jets to gliders, to just about anything made of metal I'd suppose.

Are there any reasons why this metal wouldn't be a good choice for other applications?

Re:Other applications? (1)

torpor (458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782372)

Are there any reasons why this metal wouldn't be a good choice for other applications?

One word: Patents.

patents (4, Insightful)

tid242 (540756) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782660)

Are there any reasons why this metal wouldn't be a good choice for other applications?

One word: Patents.

Actually it's difficult to say what Toyota will do to make licensing difficult for 3rd parties. While they obviously have a vested interest in making competetors pay for it (if use it at all), probably much less so in keeping Girard Perregaux from using it in their chrongraphs, or Volkl building better skis with it. Point in fact, Toyota is the only company in the world with the infrastructure to scale-up their hybrid engines (actually the only company with a hybrid program of any commercial merit apart from Honda), yet they are talking about licensing the technology to their competetors (like GM), apparently in a manner fairly affordable...

Have faith in the Nippon-jin :)

-tid242

Re:Other applications? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5783247)

Yes, there are limits. Metals that are "super strong" are usually flexible. This makes for a nice spring, but no good for something that needs stiffness. The springs of a car (made mention by a previous post) are a good candidate but not the chassis. A fexible chassis would throw alignment out.


This same tradeoff is frequently debated in the biking world. Aluminium frames are light and very stiff, allowing power to be efficiently transfered. Titanium frames are even lighter, but flexy, giving a smoother ride but inefficient power transfer (some power is robbed to flex the metal).

Other questions (1)

meridoc (134765) | more than 11 years ago | (#5784470)

It could depend on how they define "strong." From the article (thanks for the mirror!), I think they mean tensile strength; that is, they take the ends of a rod or sheet and pull them apart until it breaks. This is very different from load bearing strength (holding a weight in the middle while suspended from the sides).

Because it's so flexible, would the stuff stretch under strain? This would be bad news in, say, semi-trailer beds.

It doesn't expand in heat, but does it shrink in cold?

Is it soluble in stuff like organic solvents, crude oil, gasoline, water, acidic conditions, etc.?

What kind of wear and tear can it maintain and still be functional?

This is cool (4, Interesting)

dacarr (562277) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782265)

Tey're already pondering more high-tech stuff, but what about optometry?

My own glasses are that Flexon stuff that you can practically tie in knots, but it doesn't hold original shape *too* well and will break after doing it a few hundred times. Now imagine glasses frames that are made of this stuff.

Re:This is cool (1)

YetAnotherAnonymousC (594097) | more than 11 years ago | (#5783308)

What I need are glasses made from depleted uranium. Nothing will break that! (Might be a little heavy, though)

This above is meant to be funny, of course, but consider that, not so long ago, they put uranium in dental fillings...

Re:This is cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5786321)

DU is actually a little more brittle than ordinary steel, just very dense (not as dense as osmium and iridium though.) It's a better armor than tungsten because of its density, and also because of the thing that makes it a much beter armor-piercing munition: at the high temperatures of impact, the surface oxidizes, helping to deflect blows to the armor and self-sharpening rounds of munition.

Also, the poison and carcinogenic effects from DU come from its chemical properties as a heavy metal, not from its (very low-level) radioactivity.

These toxicity effects are NOT very well understood and NATO military is terrified to explore them because of the absurdly huge liabilities that are sure to materialize in courts all over the world as soon as the uncertanty is removed

Re:This is cool (1)

YetAnotherAnonymousC (594097) | more than 10 years ago | (#5789273)

You are quite right. And, in fact, I did once know that, but had forgotten. Been a while since I read Tom Clancy (think that's where I read the best description of how DU rounds get sharper, rather than pancaking, when they hit armour at high speed).

I once read something describing a theory -based on our understanding of trans-cell-membrane transport- about how molecules of basically any heavy metal at or above the at. no. of lead can probably wreak havoc on the body...

Side effects (3, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782267)

it can be stretched to more than 2.5 times its original length and return to its previous size

Yeah, but do it too often and you'll go blind.

Stretching, but what about bending? (3, Insightful)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782596)

Stretching is interesting, but I wonder about this material's stiffness and bending forces - if you could make better springs, you could make:
  • Better bows (hey, I'm into archery)
  • Better shock absorbers
  • Better wind-up devices (third world radios, for example)


And that's just a couple of things off the top of my head.

Re:Stretching, but what about bending? (2, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 11 years ago | (#5783017)

Bending is a form of stretching. Think if it as the outside edge is getting longer and the inside edge is getting shorter, and somewhere in the middle the length stays the same. (That's exactly what's happening)

=Smidge=

Re:Stretching, but what about bending? (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 11 years ago | (#5784176)

Yes, bending is a form of stretching. However, since the article is /. right now, what I wanted to know was what the modulus of this material was - how much force does it take to bend it per unit cross-sectional area?

You can bend a noodle, but a noodle makes a lousy bow.

All the data that I can get to just tells me it can stretch to 2.5 times its length. Great, but what is the spring coeff?

One Super Alloy? (5, Interesting)

JHMartin (311023) | more than 11 years ago | (#5782705)

"...their titanium-based alloys exhibit "super" properties, such as ultrahigh strength and super elasticity. The new materials could prove useful..." (emphasis added)

This sounds to me like they created multiple alloys with different properties and not a single miracle alloy with all of these properties. I may be wrong but since I cannot get through to read the nature story I can't tell for sure one way of the other.

Re:One Super Alloy? (1)

grannyknot (604904) | more than 11 years ago | (#5787331)

> titanium-based alloys

It would have been really nice if they gave some stress/strain data for these things. From the article you can't tell whether they're stretching the metal using a 10N or 1000KN force.

Re:One Super Alloy? (1)

Omkar (618823) | more than 11 years ago | (#5788816)

I think its a class that shares all of those properties.

Ooooh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5782948)

How about bunches of muscle fibers made out of these alloys?

Maybe this is the alloy that the spacecraft in Sphere was constructed from.

A really funny feeling. (4, Funny)

g(zerofunk.org) (596290) | more than 11 years ago | (#5783396)

I have a really funny feeling that it all start with one of the guys in the lab looking at the computer and saying, "A keyboard, how quaint"; next thing you know we got transparent alumi,er, a new Titanium Ally.
g

Alien technology (0, Troll)

tsa (15680) | more than 11 years ago | (#5783615)

This is proof of what I always suspected: they are trading prisoners of war and civilians for alien technology. There was talk of this stuff since they found [homestead.com] some of it in the Roswell space craft!

I made a temporary mirror if anyone is interested. (1, Flamebait)

AndyMoney (621470) | more than 11 years ago | (#5783938)

I took the page out of my cache and hosted it on my machine for now. http://128.119.148.139/default.html I'll take it down once the site stops getting hammered.

*BSD is dying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5784455)

It is official; Netcraft now confirms: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dying

sounds like the titanium alloy... (1)

EvanTaylor (532101) | more than 11 years ago | (#5784524)

in my flexon glasses (the bendy toddler proof kind). Neat.

250% elongation! my shiney metal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5785699)

Having read the article one finds that the elastic limit for this material is reached at about 2.5% strain. That's PERCENT, as in 2.5 parts in a hundred. As in the metal can be stretched to a length 2.5% greater than it's original length, not 250%!

2.5% is alot though, bigger than any other metal I know of. But the other properties of this material aren't so spiffy. It's stiffness is equal to or less than a number of other Titanium alloys. It's yield stress is also comparable though a bit higher. The total amount of deformation it can take before breaking is about 25% larger.

Bottom line: it doesn't dent easily.

Ed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5791360)

Remember: eloooongate the face to be sweeeedish...

Sounds like something I've read.... (1)

slipnfall (472801) | more than 11 years ago | (#5787220)

Ayn Rand anyone? For those who've read Atlas Shrugged I'm sure you can conjure something from the 'ole imagination.

If you haven't, I suggest reading it.

-Slip

Re:Sounds like something I've read.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5792911)

I would if it was able to grab my attention in the first 100 pages. Alas...

Finally. (1)

mu_wtfo (224511) | more than 10 years ago | (#5790869)

Finally, they've invented Rearden Metal. I've been waiting for this. :)

Another link (1)

BinaryForces (412005) | more than 10 years ago | (#5790915)

There is another story about this on PhysicsWeb [physicsweb.org] . The story is short, but has some more technical details.
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