What is Liquid Metal?
Liquid metal Technology
Liquid metal alloys are a revolutionary class of materials that redefines performance and cost paradigms. The superior properties of Liquid metal alloys are made possible by revolutionary scientific and technological innovations. Liquid metal alloys represent the first enabling materials technology since the creation of thermoplastics and possess characteristics that make them superior in many ways to other commercially-viable materials. First, they have an "amorphous" atomic structure, which is unprecedented for structural metals. Second, they include a multi-component chemical composition, which can be optimized for various properties and processes. Finally, they lend themselves to process technology similar to that possessed by plastics.
Atomic Structure of Liquid metal Alloys
The atomic structure is the most striking characteristic of the Liquidmetal alloys as it fundamentally differentiates Liquidmetal alloys from ordinary metals.
The atomic structure of ordinary or conventional metals and alloys is periodic, where the layout of atomic elements shows repeating patterns over an extended range. This atomic structure is called "crystalline" and limits the overall performance of conventional metals.
Liquidmetal alloys possess an "amorphous" atomic structure, which is truly unique. By contrast to the crystalline structure, no discernable patterns exist in the atomic structure of the unique Liquidmetal alloys. As such, properties superior to the limits of conventional metals can be achieved.
Properties of Liquid metal
This amorphous atomic structure leads to a unique set of characteristic properties for the family of Liquidmetal alloys.
These characteristic properties are:
• High Yield Strength
One of the direct results of the unique atomic structure of Liquidmetal alloys is very high yield strength, which approaches the theoretical limit and far exceeds the strength currently available in crystalline metals and alloys. For example, yield strength of over 250 ksi has been achieved in Zr-base and Ti-base Liquidmetal alloys (VIT-001 series). This is more than twice the strength of conventional titanium alloys.
Another unique property of Liquidmetal alloys is the superior elastic limit; i.e., the ability to retain its original shape (memory) after undergoing very high loads and stress. Furthermore, the Liquidmetal alloys have much higher corrosion and wear resistance than their conventional (crystalline) counterparts due to the unique atomic structure. By varying chemical composition, some properties within the family of Liquidmetal alloys can be optimized even further.
Near-net Shape Fabrication of Liquid metal Alloys
One of the most unique characteristics of Liquidmetal alloys is the availability of its superior mechanical properties in as-cast form. This is in distinct contrast to conventional metals where the as-cast forms have inferior mechanical properties compared to their wrought and forged forms, which limits the fabrication of intricate and sophisticated designs.
The solidification of Liqudmetal alloys shows fundamentally distinct characteristics compared to the solidification of ordinary metals. This is due to the lack of phase transformation from the molten metal state during solidification. In addition, Liquidmetal alloys have very low melting temperature relative to their constituent metals. As a result, it is possible to fabricate Liquidmetal alloys in intricate and sophisticated designs without costly post-finishing processes.
Composites of Liquid metal Alloys
The above mentioned qualities, specifically the availability of superior properties in as-cast form and low melting temperature, provide exceptional opportunities for processing Liquidmetal alloys in composite forms with a variety of reinforcements. The near-net shape processing characteristics of Liquidmetal alloys make the fabrication of highly sophisticated and sound composite structures possible. This allows us to further improve or tailor the following properties of Liquidmetal alloys for specific applications:
• Fatigue Resistance
This very unique combination of superior properties in the domain of high-strength metals and the fabrication characteristics of plastics positions the family of Liquidmetal alloys as the new paradigm in materials science. This revolutionary material will enable applications that will render obsolete current technology based on materials from titanium to plastic.
What is Liquid Metal?