Researchers are exploring the potential of metallic glass as a versatile, pliable material that is stronger than steel, with a bevy of possible medical device applications. Yale University engineers have discovered a unique method for designing metallic glass nanostructures across a wide range of chemicals, a technique that could have applications for everything from watch parts to phone casings to implantable medical devices.
Metallic glass, considered an extremely versatile material that offers both pliability and strength, could be on the verge of reshaping the chemical landscape thanks to a “huge step for nanofabrication,” according to a news release from the university. The development could spur some biological implants innovation.
Jan Schroers, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Yale, has been working for years with a team refining the process for designing metallic glass nanostructures. The process for designing metallic glass nanostructures essentially consist of complex, multicomponent alloys that are constructed at the nanoscale.
These materials can be molded, much like plastic, and are already being used in many different manufacturing applications. In their paper, Schroers and his colleagues demonstrate their new method for applying metallic glass nanostructures to a broad range of glass-forming alloys through a process that involves depositing the material into a mold in vapor form. This new method provides them with the ability to control the size, shape and composition of alloys at the nanoscale.
Schroers believes that expanding the chemistries of metallic glass, specifically down to the nanoscale level, can expand the possible uses for the material. He notes that manufacturers will be able to optimize the design to a desired electrochemical behavior for a battery or fuel cell. They also believe they can alter the material to increase its biocompatibility, which could have significant implications on any implantable devices made of metallic glass.
For now, Schroers and his group plan to continue exploring the potential metallic glass, as well as expanding its chemistries, all in an effort to utilize the strengths of the material in every facet.