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Design of Stable Nanocrystalline Alloys

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Science  24 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6097, pp. 951-954
DOI: 10.1126/science.1224737

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Abstract

Nanostructured metals are generally unstable; their grains grow rapidly even at low temperatures, rendering them difficult to process and often unsuitable for usage. Alloying has been found to improve stability, but only in a few empirically discovered systems. We have developed a theoretical framework with which stable nanostructured alloys can be designed. A nanostructure stability map based on a thermodynamic model is applied to design stable nanostructured tungsten alloys. We identify a candidate alloy, W-Ti, and demonstrate substantially enhanced stability for the high-temperature, long-duration conditions amenable to powder-route production of bulk nanostructured tungsten. This nanostructured alloy adopts a heterogeneous chemical distribution that is anticipated by the present theoretical framework but unexpected on the basis of conventional bulk thermodynamics.

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