Scientists create the strongest silver ever made

Shane McGlaun - Oct 3, 2019, 7:36am CDT
Scientists create the strongest silver ever made

Scientists from the University of Vermont have created what they claim to be the strongest silver ever made. The new metal that the team invented is 42% stronger than the previous world record. While the super-strong silver is a big deal, the technique used to create the strong metal is the big news.

The team says that it has discovered a new mechanism at work at the nanoscale that allows them to make metals that are much storage than anything ever made before. When the metals are made stronger, they still maintain their electrical conductivity says the scientists.

The team says that the breakthrough promises a new category of materials that can overcome a traditional trade-off in industry and commercial materials between strength and the ability to carry electrical current. The scientists say that all metals have defects and that typically, the defects lead to undesirable qualities like brittleness or softening.

As the material gets stronger by creating various alloys or heavy mixtures to make the metal stronger, the material loses conductivity. The team mixed a trace amount of copper into the silver and showed the ability to transform two types of inherent nanoscale defects into a powerful internal structure. The team was able to both strengthen the metal and maintain the conductivity.

The team says the copper atoms, which are a bit smaller than the silver atoms, move into the defects in the metal. The copper impurities in the silver prevent the defects from moving. The team copper laced silver has a hardness measurement that is above the previous theoretical maximum. Scientists on the project think that the approach to making stronger conductive silver can be applied to other metals. This breakthrough could lead to lighter aircraft, more efficient solar cells, and safer nuclear power plants.

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