PerspectiveMaterials Science

Order emerging from disorder

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Science  01 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6465, pp. 573-574
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz1598

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Summary

Twenty-six metals are usually found in alloys. Combining five of those metals and varying the composition in 1% increments leads to 2,822,599,802,880 different possible compounds. For six metals, the number of possible combinations is 902,943,619,878,430. Not all of these combinations are stable, but adding more elements counterintuitively stabilizes simpler structures by increasing entropy, a measure of disorder. Creating new materials by using entropy as a driving force is an emerging topic in materials science. Initially, this concept was used to obtain high-entropy alloys (HEA), which typically consisted of five elements. These alloys exhibit intriguing structural properties (1, 2). Recently, the strategy of using the entropy of mixing to stabilize a new phase has been extended outside metallic alloys and into functional materials.

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