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Technology | China independently develops new aviation materials to achieve "self generated" ceramics in aluminum

The research team of Shanghai Jiaotong University has developed new materials and cooperated with multiple enterprises to build production and application platforms, greatly promoting the development and landing of aerospace materials in China.

Recently, Professor Wang Haowei from the School of Materials Science and Engineering of Shanghai Jiaotong University has developed a super strong nano ceramic aluminum alloy with a strength and specific stiffness that even exceeds that of the "space metal" titanium alloy, helping to usher in a lighter and more energy-saving new material era in the fields of aerospace and high-speed iron.

As shown in the table, with the demand for practical applications, the development of aerospace materials is gradually approaching lightweight and high-strength. Currently, aerospace structural materials mainly include aluminum alloys, titanium alloys, fiber composites, and high-temperature structural materials.

In the application of structural materials for aircraft and spacecraft bodies, aluminum alloys have been flourishing for nearly 100 years. Especially since the late 1980s, with the gradual formation of aircraft damage tolerance and durability design criteria, higher requirements have been placed on the comprehensive properties of materials such as strength, fracture toughness, corrosion resistance, and fatigue resistance. Aluminum alloy is an ideal structural material due to its advantages such as light weight, easy processing, corrosion resistance, and higher specific strength than many alloy steels.

Titanium is also an important structural metal developed in the 1950s. Compared to aluminum alloys, titanium alloys have better strength, corrosion resistance, and heat resistance. In the 1950s and 1960s, the main focus was on developing high-temperature titanium alloys for aircraft engines and structural titanium alloys for airframes. Nowadays, the multifunctional research and application of titanium alloys is also the focus of research in the field of aerospace.

Compared to metal structural materials such as aluminum and steel, carbon fiber reinforced resin matrix composites have extremely high specific strength and stiffness, and are currently an ideal lightweight and high-strength aerospace structural material. Compared with aluminum alloy, the weight reduction effect of aircraft structures made of carbon fiber composite materials can reach 20% to 40%.

Although there are different materials available for different needs in the aerospace field, extremely strict performance and quality requirements for aerospace materials, complex product manufacturing techniques, and consistently high costs severely restrict the application and development of materials. Due to the fact that aircraft need to fly under various extreme environmental conditions, the technical issues involved in their materials are very complex, and they are the focus and hotspot of research in the field of materials.

In order to further optimize the properties of existing materials, the team from Shanghai Jiaotong University began researching the "doping" of ceramics into aluminum. In response, Professor Wang Haowei said that aluminum is very light, but its strength and hardness are not high; "The hardness of ceramics is superior to that of steel, so combining the two can produce aluminum matrix composites that are light in weight, high in hardness, ductile, and resistant to fracture and deformation.".

Professor Wang Haowei introduced that the team finally adopted the "in situ self generation technology", which reduced the size of ceramic particles from tens of micrometers to nanoscale through melt controlled self generation, breaking through the application bottlenecks of international traditional methods of adding ceramic aluminum matrix composites such as low plasticity and difficult processing.

It is reported that this nano ceramic aluminum alloy is light in weight, and has characteristics such as high stiffness, high strength, fatigue resistance, low expansion, high damping, and high temperature resistance. It has been applied in the fields of aerospace, automotive, and advanced electronic equipment. Professor Wang Haowei said that at present, nano ceramic aluminum alloys have been applied to key components such as Tiangong 1, Tiangong 2, quantum satellites, and meteorological satellites.

It is understood that due to the cooperation of the People's Government of Huaibei City, Anhui Province, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai Junyao (Group) Co., Ltd., and Anhui Xiangbang Composite Material Co., Ltd., the achievements of nano ceramic aluminum alloy have finally been achieved.

In response, Liu Yangang, President of the Advanced Industrial Technology Research Institute of Shanghai Jiaotong University, said, "Today's Sifang Cooperation will build a market-oriented operation platform conducive to the expansion and application of nano ceramic aluminum alloys, and establish a complete system with independent intellectual property rights such as material production, product design, manufacturing processes, and use standards."

This time, the breakthrough made by the research team of Shanghai Jiaotong University in aerospace materials and their preparation technology undoubtedly has a strong leading and promoting role in modern material technology.