Nanoparticles unlock the future of superalloy metals. ‘Sandia National Laboratories is pioneering the future of superalloy materials by advancing the science behind how those superalloys are made. As part of Sandia’s nanoscale research, a group of experts specializing in inorganic synthesis and characterization, modeling, and radiation science have designed a radical system of experiments to study the science of creating metal and alloy nanoparticles.
This research has vast implications, says Tina Nenoff, project leader. The lightweight, corrosion-resistant materials that the team is creating are needed for weapons casings, gas turbine engines, satellites, aircraft, and power plants.
A quick trip down memory lane to the days of high school science class will recall those chapters on material and chemical science defining alloys as a combination of two or more elements, at least one of which is a metal, where the resulting material has metallic properties different — sometimes significantly different — from the properties of its components. For instance, steel is stronger than iron, its primary component.
Superalloys, as the name would imply, stand out from the general population of alloys in the same way Superman would be considered extraordinary compared to the rest of us. These specialized alloys are exceptionally strong, lightweight, and able to withstand extremes that would destroy everyday metals like steel and aluminum.
“These high-performance superalloys are revered for their remarkable mechanical strength and their resistance to corrosion, oxidation, and deformation at high temperatures,” says Jason Jones, Sandia researcher.’
Superalloys: A Primer and History. ‘The term superalloy was first used shortly after World War II to describe a group of alloys developed for use in turbosuperchargers and aircraft turbine engines that required high performance at elevated temperatures. The range of applications for which superalloys are used has expanded to many other areas and now includes aircraft and land-based gas turbines, rocket engines, chemical, and petroleum plants. They are particularly well suited for these demanding applications because of their ability to retain most of their strength even after long exposure times above 650°C (1,200°F). Their versatility stems from the fact that they combine this high strength with good low-temperature ductility and excellent surface stability.
Superalloys are based on Group VIIIB elements and usually consist of various combinations of Fe, Ni, Co, and Cr, as well as lesser amounts of W, Mo, Ta, Nb, Ti, and Al. The three major classes of superalloys are nickel-, iron-, and cobalt-based alloys.’
The Superalloys at the Phase Transformations & Complex Properties Research Group, University of Cambridge.