Stunning discovery could change how cars and planes are built — here’s why

Stunning discovery could change how cars and planes are built — here’s why

The discovery follows on the heels of some incredible breakthroughs in lightweight metals.

As we reported recently, scientists at the University of California Los Angeles have just figured out how to create a new metal that is both lighter and stronger than current metals used to build the cars, planes, and spacecraft our modern society relies on. But why is this such a big deal to the manufacturing world?

After all, the metals we have today are abundant and they seem to do just fine. Even so, this new discovery — a metal made using a combination of magnesium and ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles — has the scientific community very, very excited, and for good reason.

“With an infusion of physics and materials processing, our method paves a new way to enhance the performance of many different kinds of metals by evenly infusing dense nanoparticles to enhance the performance of metals to meet energy and sustainability challenges in today’s society,” said Xiaochun Li, a professor of manufacturing and engineering at UCLA, in a statement, adding: “The results we obtained so far are just scratching the surface of the hidden treasure for a new class of metals with revolutionary properties and functionalities.”

The reality is that a lighter, stronger version of steel and other metals is the holy grail of the manufacturing industry. By creating a metal that is both lighter and stronger, it can improve the structural integrity of the vehicles we drive and the planes we fly in while dramatically reducing the cost. When it comes to advancements in manufacturing, this is what scientists strive for perhaps the most.

And there have been lots of promising discoveries in recent years. Just last year scientists made a breakthrough in graphene, which is just an atom thick but has incredible strength — 200 times stronger than steel while lighter than a piece of paper and flexible to boot. It was first isolated back in 2004 and ever since then scientists have been trying to figure out how to make it a practical material and get it out of the lab.

Scientists will continue to search for these metals, and recent discoveries indicate that they’re getting closer and closer to the next wonder metal.



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