I-Corps: Tailored Thermal Expansion Alloys
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As technology advances toward devices that demand increased dimensional stability across a wide variety of temperatures, the need for thermally compensated materials and structures grows. Researchers plan to further develop a technology that produces strong and ductile alloys with tailored thermal expansion properties, even in the negative regime. This is achieved using simple alloy processing techniques such as cold rolling and wire drawing. The newly discovered mechanism to explain the tailored thermal expansion phenomenon enables thermal expansion design purely through material processing. This new mechanism allows the team to predict and control the unique thermal expansion properties not only of metals, but also of low symmetry crystalline ceramics such as perovskites and titanates. All current methods for thermal expansion control rely on changing material chemistry or creating composites with complicated geometries and material components. This limits their widespread utility due to high material costs and complex manufacturing procedures. By using simple processing techniques such as cold rolling, a 16th century technology, the team can design materials from the bottom up to enable great advances in 21st century technologies. This technology will advance knowledge and understanding within its own field and across different fields by bringing new insights into thermal expansion mechanisms in all material classes and driving new areas of application-based research. Also, the potentially transformative concept of obtaining tailored thermal expansion in structural materials solely from mechanical processing will change the way scientists and engineers design for thermal compensation. Embedding tailored thermal expansion coefficient materials in power transmission lines can significantly reduce energy losses. This has the potential to mitigate future energy crises with the nation?s ever growing energy demands. Other examples include improved microprocessor performance and stable telescope focal lengths by compensating thermal expansion between dissimilar material components.