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New material combinations produce super-materials

Steel or ceramic? Or why not both! Researchers from Freiburg have taken out a patent on a process for combining the two materials. The result: new materials, capable of withstanding staggering loads.

27 Feb. 2018
David Schahinian
New material combinations produce super-materials (Foto: TU Bergakademie Freiberg)

For nine years now, scientists in Freiburg from the fields of mechanical engineering, materials science, and economics have been collaborating on the development of new materials made from steel and ceramic. Collaborative Research Center 799 (TRIP-Matrix-Composites) is now able to announce a breakthrough: They have successfully produced materials with an ultra-high energy absorption capacity. The secret here lies in the elasticity: When a force is exerted on the material, the distance between the atoms increases. According to the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology , it has “up until now been impossible” for a material to change its solid state volume like this. The researchers envisage applications in the automotive and aerospace industries. The steel/ceramic composite could, for example, help save lives in traffic accidents.

Just a few days earlier, news website Spiegel Online had reported on research into another super-material: wood. The report stated that scientists at the University of Maryland have developed a process for increasing the tensile and fracture strength of wood several fold, whereby they first treat the wood chemically and then compress it to a fifth of its original size. The Maryland researchers name the manufacturing of more cost-effective armor-plating as one possible application of this super-material.