Scientists at the University of Huddersfield have researched a new hardening precipitate of a new alloy that resists particle radiation. 

According to Dr Matheus Tunes at the university’s Microscopes and Ion Accelerators for Materials Investigations (MIAMI-2) facility, the alloy does not dissolve when bombarded with particle radiation when compared with existing data on irradiation of conventional aluminium alloys. 

This results in an alloy with a T-phase radiation resistant hardening phase which has a complex crystal structure of Mg32(Zn,Al)49.

‘The idea of the paper was testing these new alloys using the MIAMI facilities, because we can subject the alloy to energetic particle radiation and, at the same time, monitor the effect of this radiation on the alloy microstructure with a transmission electron microscope,’ said Dr Tunes. 

The researchers monitored the crystallographic signal of the T-phase as the radiation increased and observed that compared with other conventional aluminium alloys, the alloy they developed was radiation tolerant, so that the hardening phase did not dissolve under high radiation doses, Dr Tunes said.

‘It sheds light on a very exciting new field of research we call prototypic space materials for stellar-radiation environments,’ he added.

 Once outside of the Earth’s protective magnetic field, space vehicles can be exposed to potentially destructive amounts of solar radiation, which becomes more important for any long duration mission such as to Mars. Alloys help aluminium become harder via precipitation strengthening, but the radiation encountered in space can reportedly dissolve the hardening precipitates with potentially disastrous and fatal consequences. 

The research has been published in the journal Advanced Science

This story uses material from the University of Huddersfield, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.