A new ceramic from China is as flexible as metal


Technical ceramics
A new ceramic from China is as flexible as metal

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Chinese scientists have developed a new ceramic material that is as flexible as metal. For the first time in the world, the hardness of ceramics and the flexibility of metals are combined, so it has great potential as a material in the automotive and aerospace industries.

A new material developed by Chinese scientists is said to combine the hardness of ceramic with the plasticity of metal.  It is said to have interesting new uses for the material in the aerospace industry, among others.
A new material developed by Chinese scientists is said to combine the hardness of ceramic with the plasticity of metal. It is said that there are interesting new uses for the material in the aerospace industry, among others.

(Photo: Paopano – stock.adobe.com)

Until now, the flexibility and strength of ceramics have been considered two opposite properties, improving one usually reduces the other. But a new material developed by Chinese scientists combines the hardness of ceramics with the plasticity of metals, writes research team leader Chen Kexin of the National Natural Science Foundation of China’s (NSFC) Department of Engineering and Materials Science.

“We present a design method for deformable, covalently bonded silicon nitride (Si3N4) with a two-phase structure with coherent interfaces,” write Chen and his co-authors, including Zhang Jie of the State Key Laboratory of New Ceramics and Fine Processing, School of Materials Science and Engineering ” in Journal of Science of Tsinghua University, Beijing.

Covalent bond breaking/twisting/crosslinking method

According to the Tsinghua University website, the plasticity of the new ceramic material is similar to that of metal due to the innovative “covalent bond breaking/rotating/rebonding” method.

This discovery of a ductile ceramic material could lead to the development of “materials that are lighter and stronger than even the best metal alloys available today,” writes researcher Erkka Frankberg of the University of Tampere in Finland in the same October 27 issue. in the Science issue. magazine.

This could be used to develop better and lighter internal combustion engines.

Flexible ceramic motors for space travel

According to the South China Morning Post, this is of interest, among other things, to flexible ceramic engines for space travel that can operate at significantly higher temperatures and achieve better fuel efficiency. The researchers involved in the development believe that the automotive industry and other industries could also benefit from the new material. For example, it could be used to make better and lighter internal combustion engines.

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The new ceramic material could also help create better artificial joints. Artificial joints these days often need to be replaced after about ten years, causing corresponding costs and burdens for patients, according to the South China Morning Post.

Artificial joints and ceramic bearings

“Artificial ceramic joints can last a lifetime once implanted,” says researcher Chen Kexin. “These ceramics can lead to technological revolutions in many industries.

According to the scientist, another example is the roller bearings in wind turbines that connect the generator to the rotor blades. Each of these bearings must withstand a pressure of several tons, and their durability determines the service life of the entire system. Its flexible silicon nitride ceramics can be used to produce longer-life bearings, “reducing the average cost of wind energy,” according to Chen.

As early as 30 years ago, experiments were conducted all over the world to increase the plasticity of ceramics.

Ceramics is a Chinese invention, and many Chinese media reported pride in this latest achievement. Already 30 years ago, when he started his career, experiments were taking place all over the world to increase the plasticity of ceramics. “We finally made a breakthrough,” Chen said.

The fragility of ceramics has so far set the limits…

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