PerspectiveMaterials Science

The Hotter the Engine, the Better

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Science  20 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5956, pp. 1068-1069
DOI: 10.1126/science.1179327

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Jet turbine engines have benefited from decades of development of nickel-based superalloys, which have allowed a steady increase in engine operating temperatures and led to improved performance and efficiency. However, operating temperatures are now reaching limits posed by the melting temperatures (Tm) of these materials. New materials, including alloys based on metals with higher melting points, such as molybdenum (Mo) and niobium (Nb) alloyed with silicon (Si), are now being seriously examined as alternatives by academic and industrial groups.