Composites Reinforced in Three Dimensions by Using Low Magnetic Fields

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Science  13 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6065, pp. 199-204
DOI: 10.1126/science.1210822

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The orientation and distribution of reinforcing particles in artificial composites are key to enable effective reinforcement of the material in mechanically loaded directions, but remain poor if compared to the distinctive architectures present in natural structural composites such as teeth, bone, and seashells. We show that micrometer-sized reinforcing particles coated with minimal concentrations of superparamagnetic nanoparticles (0.01 to 1 volume percent) can be controlled by using ultralow magnetic fields (1 to 10 milliteslas) to produce synthetic composites with tuned three-dimensional orientation and distribution of reinforcements. A variety of structures can be achieved with this simple method, leading to composites with tailored local reinforcement, wear resistance, and shape memory effects.

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