Stronger steel inspired by the structure of bones
Steel is used in many kinds of construction, from buildings to trains and airplanes. But while it is strong, after a while, it develops tiny cracks that can cause fractures. To create more resilient and stronger steel, researchers at MIT, the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung, and Kyushu University looked at the structure of bones.
Our bones are lightweight, but don’t crack easily. This is because bones are structured like a lattice internally, known as a hierarchical microstructure, with different parents and connections that can resist different forms of pressure.
The new form of steel consists of overlapping layers, like bones. If a crack begins in one layer, it is harder to spread to the others. Different parts of the layers have different hardnesses, which work together to make the material stronger.
The researchers found that this kind of steel was the most resistant to developing microcracks that appear after repeated use.
It will be a while before the material is commercially available and would probably cost more than normal steel, but because you can use less of it, it might save you money in the end.
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