The Hardening-Fast Rules

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Science  21 Apr 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5772, pp. 333
DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5772.333m

Aluminum alloys are often used in applications where lighter is better. One commonly used alloy is AlMgSi, which can be rapidly strengthened with a heat-treating step after being pressed into a given shape. However, this quick-bake hardening can be hindered if the alloy is stored for a long time before processing. Chen et al. (p. 416) studied the hardening process and identified double columns of silicon that form the skeleton of the evolving nanoparticle precipitates. They were able to monitor how the reinforcing precipitates change in composition with annealing.

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