An anonymous reader writes: Engineers working on planes, rockets, and other vehicles are always looking for new metals to make their creations lighter and stronger. A new invention from UCLA demonstrates "record levels of specific strength — how much weight a material can withstand before breaking — and specific modulus — the material's stiffness-to-weight ratio." The metal is mostly (86%) magnesium, but infused with an even dispersal of ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles (abstract). A key part of their work was preventing the nanoparticles from clumping, since they attract each other if left alone. "To counteract this issue, researchers dispersed the particles into a molten magnesium zinc alloy. The newly discovered nanoparticle dispersion relies on the kinetic energy in the particles' movement. This stabilizes the particles' dispersion and prevents clumping."
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