Russian scientists figured out how to improve the properties of steel 100 times

Mankind learned centuries agohandle metals. With the discovery of ways to work with metals, people improved blacksmithing, trying to improve the properties of metal products. Everything was used: hardening, creation of alloys, coating of metals with special substances, and so on. But at a certain point this was not enough. Then high technology came to the rescue. And more recently, a group of Russian scientists found a way to improve some of the properties of steel 100 times.

New technology will make steel much stronger and more resistant to damage.

According to the publication Eurekalert, for the developmentScientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) stand for the new methodology, and the results of the study were published in the journal Surface and Coatings Technology and presented at the conference on surface modification of materials by ion beams (SMMIB) 2019.

Why was it necessary to improve the properties of metals?

The fact is that for today the main wayto give steel (and other metals) useful properties like strength, wear resistance and so on is a process called "alloying". Doping is, in simple terms, the addition of additional substances (impurities) to the composition of metals to change the physical and chemical properties of the required material. Today, traditional alloying methods are reported to have exhausted their technological potential. Therefore, metals are increasingly exposed to beams of charged particles, plasma flows and laser radiation in order to achieve the desired results.

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Ion implantation (ion doping) isone of the methods that allows you to change the elemental composition, microstructure and morphology of the surface layers that determine properties such as wear resistance, corrosion resistance, strength, etc. Tomsk scientists have developed a new method of ion implantation, which dramatically expands the field of application of the method in industry. According to the head of the laboratory of high-intensity ion implantation, Alexander Ryabchikov, they managed to experimentally increase the wear resistance of stainless steel by more than a hundred times.

Experimental setup to increase the strength of steel

In addition, this technology allowsto produce parts and products with the required specific surface properties. For example, a barrier layer (i.e., the outer layer of an article) is formed by ion doping of zirconium with titanium, which prevents the penetration of oxygen. This can be used to increase the service life and safety during operation, for example, at nuclear power plants and the use of such metals in nuclear reactors.

Current industrial use of iondoping is limited by the small thickness of the formed ion-doped layers. And this is the main problem that does not allow using a new approach for the production of metals of a new type. But we propose to increase the depth of penetration of ions into the material by enhancing radiation-induced diffusion by high-density ion beams, which are two to three orders of magnitude higher than those used in traditional ion implantation, ”said Alexander Ryabchikov.

Thus, it will be possible, according to scientists,to achieve better results when creating high-strength and wear-resistant metals. Laboratory results confirm this hypothesis. The created steel samples have a surface layer several hundred micrometers deep, while other methods of ion doping allow a depth of only a few tens of nanometers. The authors emphasize that the use of new technology will make it possible to produce metals with unique properties, which will make it possible to improve the quality of products by several tens of times.