A newly discovered super steel alloy has the potential to solve a longstanding problem that could make steel as common as aluminum in the manufacture of electronics devices and other consumer products.
Researchers at Pohang University of Science and Technology in Pohang, South Korea, have discovered a new steel alloy that’s as light and strong as aluminum or titanium alloy. This new alloy is also much cheaper than titanium alloys.
Steel has long been an important material for making strong, durable objects. Construction beams that support huge buildings and skyscrapers, for example, are commonly made of steel. Steel, however, is very heavy. Its weight means it’s not ideal for use in smaller devices such as computers or smartphones.
Steel is also relatively inexpensive when compared to lighter metals with similar strength, such as aluminum or titanium. That said, cost doesn’t matter much when steel makes an object or device too heavy for practical use.
The new super steel alloy discovered by researcher Hansoo Kim and his team of scientists offers a flexible material with the same strength-to-weight ratio as titanium but at about 10 percent of the cost.
Kim’s discovery also solved a longstanding problem with brittleness of aluminum/steel alloys, creating a material that’s less dense than regular steel with the same strength as titanium.
Before the new super steel alloy can be put into widespread use, however, a process for protecting the material must be devised. The current method of protecting steel with a silicate layer can’t be used on the new super steel material.
Industry sources expect the new super steel alloy will eventually find uses in automotive and aerospace applications.
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