High-density, thermodynamically stable, nanostructured metallic copper

Ultra-tough nanocrystalline materials with potential for high-volume production make these metals and alloys the future of advanced metallurgy


Bulk nanocrystalline metals, alloys, and composites are of interest due to the exotic mechanical properties with which they are associated. Recent reports indicate that ultra-high strength and moderate ductility are possible in such metals. However, a major drawback to the commercialization of these unique materials is the inability to mass produce large quantities of bulk material. Currently, commercialized products have been limited to electrolytic coatings or steels where the spacing of the microstructural phases is on the nanometer scale.

The image highlights the high density of nanoclusters of various sizes.  (U.S. Army photo illustration)

One potential solution to higher production capability is with a novel high-density thermodynamically stable nanostructured copper-tantalum (Cu–Ta) or Cu-Fe metallic material developed by the Army. These materials may include a solvent of Cu metal that comprises 70 percent or more of the metallic system and a solute of Ta metal dispersed in the solvent metal. This metallic system is thermally stable, with the absence of substantial gross grain growth, such that the internal grain size of the solvent metal is substantially suppressed to no more than about 250 nm at approximately 98 percent of the melting point temperature of the solvent metal. Importantly, the solute metal remains substantially uniformly dispersed in the solvent metal at that temperature.

These various metallic systems can be formed in powdered form or bulk form via consolidating of resultant powder metal subjected to high-energy milling. The processing approach should enable the development of microstructurally stable structural alloys with high strength and creep resistance for various high-temperature applications, including in the aerospace, naval, civilian infrastructure and energy sectors.

This US patent 9,822,430 is a continuation-in-part of US patent 9,333,558. A divisional of the ‘558 patent exists as US application number 2016031939.

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