PerspectiveLight Metals

Processing magnesium at room temperature

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Science  05 Jul 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6448, pp. 30-31
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9732

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Aluminum (Al) alloys are often used for lightweight applications such as airframes, but with proper alloying elements and heat treatments, magnesium (Mg) alloys can reach strengths comparable to those of some Al alloys but be 35% lighter (1). Nonetheless, the use of Mg alloys has been limited by their poor processability at room temperature and low corrosion resistance (2). The latter can be improved either with additional alloying elements (2) or by refining their grain size (3). Improvements to the ductility of Mg, which controls its processability, will require better understanding of its plastic deformation mechanisms and the parameters controlling their activities. On page 73 of this issue, Liu et al. (4) offer new insight into how Mg deforms, and more specifically, on the role of slip along the pyramidal planes of its unit cell in accommodating large deformation (see the figure).

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