Thursday, September 28, 2006

First PIM of Pure Niobium

A research team based at Penn State University has developed a Powder Injection Molding process for Pure Niobium (Ni) powder. Gaurav Aggarwal, a doctoral candidate at the Engineering Science and Mechanics department at the university and a key member of the research team has been instrumental in conceptualizing and developing this process.

Niobium finds applications as a steel alloying element, nuclear industry, superalloys for jet engine componets, superconductors and as a biomaterial. However, because of its physical properties, pure Niobium powder processing is not an easy task. This new process could provide a deeper insight into possible applications of Niobium as a biomaterial.

More details about this process and its benefits could be read in this ScienceDaily article.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Sphagetti and Brittle Behavior of Materials

(High-speed video reveals that (left to right) a stick of dry spaghetti whacked at the end by a metal slug (top) buckles in waves before shattering. Studies done by Dr.Belmonte)
Ever wonder how scientists think of silly thing in order to understand some complex engineering behavior? Thats what you will read in this article from Science News Online: .

That's the Way the Spaghetti Crumbles
- Peter Weiss
"Great scientists sometimes do silly experiments. The renowned physicist and Nobel prize winner Richard P. Feynman, for instance, once got it into his head to figure out why uncooked spaghetti doesn't snap neatly in two when you bend it far enough to break. Pay attention next time, and you'll notice that the pasta tends to shatter into three or more fragments of unequal lengths.

In the midst of making a spaghetti dinner for themselves one night about 20 years ago, Feynman and a friend—supercomputing innovator W. Daniel Hillis—launched into a brief investigation of this perplexing breaking-pasta performance. "We ended up, at the end of a couple of hours, with broken spaghetti all over the kitchen and no real good theory about why spaghetti breaks in three," Hillis recalls, as quoted in the book No Ordinary Genius by Christopher Sykes (1994, W.W. Norton)."

Click here for complete article and read it completely with a surprise mixed smile.
My Opinion: Can we apply the mechanical behavior of uncooked spaghetti equally ideally to metallic materials also, knowing that atomic bonding is different in both these class of materials ?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Carbon Nanotubes in Kajal

A professor from Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur has done research in Carbon Nano Tubes (CNT) and showed that kajal, a sooty cosmetic used by Indian women from thousands of years to adorn their eyes as an eyeliner, actually consists of CNTs. It is really amazing to know that. The complete article is available here at The Indian Express website.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Mind Maps

Recently, I came across te concept of mind-maps. Sounds interesting, isnt it ? Yes it is infact a very interesting thing. A mind-map is a powerful graphical tool which utilizes all the pictorial/graphical skills to represent a concept/idea and how various factors/issues are related/linked to it. It is a very old technique and now presented in more methodical way. Mind-mpas can be used in any application like presentations, education etc. For more information on mind-maps and how you can make one, click here.
My favorite source if information on internet Wikipedia has this link for mind-maps.

Iron Pillar of New Delhi

The Iron-Pillar situated in New Delhi, India is indeed a metallurgical marvel. Erected somewhere around 400 A.D, this hisorical monument has resisted something, which is still the biggest problem in industries. Corrosion. Yes, this iron-pillar has smoothly resisted corrosion for last 1600 years. No doubt that it has been the center of attraction for metallurgists and engineers, for it has achieved what modern alloy development techniques are not able to. However, after in-depth studies and analysis at IIT-Kanpur, the technical reason behind this ancient marvel has been explained. This remarkable property has been attributed to the presence of high amount of Phosphorous in the iron which results in the formation of an ultra-thin layer of "misawite", a compound of iron, oxygen and hydrogen.
Hats off to ancient Indian iron-making skills. For more information, click here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Regrettable Materials

Dr.Peter Goodhew has written an article titled Regrettable Materials, pointing put some mistakes we have made while doing materials selection for some applications. For example consider packaging material. "The only certainty about packaging materials is that someone, sometime, is going to need to remove them! Why then does so much packaging require a tool-not-readily-athand in order to open it ?". Another interesting materials he talks about is shower-gel. "Scientific studies in my shower reveal that 97.36% of gel reaches the drain without having left any trace on the body". This interesting-to-read was published in MRS Bulletin (January 2005) and can be downloaded here.

Invention of Stainless Steel

Stainless steel, the name doesnt sound like a puzzle of alien world. Everyone must be familiar of this metallic alloy and its uses in our daily life. Main property which makes it so popular and useful is its excellent corrosion resistance, which is attibuted to the presence of metal Chromium in this alloy system. Infact, stainless steel is defined as ferrous alloy containing more than 10.5 % Chromium (by weight). Other main alloying elements are Molybdenum and Nickel. More information about this interesting iron alloy can be found here and here.

Just like other major inventions, stainless steel was also an accidental invention. This is accredited to Harry Brearly from Sheffield, UK in 1913. Interesting fact is that he left school at the age of 12 and then by private studies and night school he became an expert in steel analysis. In 1912 Brearley was asked to help in the problems being encountered by a small arms manufacturer, whereby the internal diameter of rifle barrels was eroding away too quickly because of the action of heating and discharge gases. Brearley was therefore looking for a steel with better resistance to erosion, not corrosion. As a line of investigation he decided to experiment with steels containing chromium, as these were known to have a higher melting point than ordinary steels.

He made a number of different melts of 6 to 15% chromium with varying carbon contents. The first true stainless steel was melted on the 13th August 1913. It contained 0.24% carbon and 12.8% chromium. In order to examine the grain structure of the steel he needed to etch (attack with acid) samples before examining them under the microscope. The etching reagents were based on nitric acid, and he found that this new steel strongly resisted chemical attack. He then exposed samples to vinegar and other food acids such as lemon juice and found the same result. Thus, a corrosion resistant variety of steel was born, which was later named as Stainless Steel.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Materials Engineering Brochure

Click here to download a three-fold brochure prepared by me (in a graphics course offered by Dr. James Wandersee ) to get more acquainted with materials engineering. This brochure is prepared for common people with no technical or engineering background. It is an eye-opener as we can see the importance of materials in one's life.

What is Materials Science & Engineering ?

The very definition of engineering adopted by the "Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology" itself illuminates the central position of materials: "Engineering is the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize, economically the materials and forces of nature for [society's] benefit" Thus, in a real sense, virtually every modern technology is materials-limited at the present time with respect to performance, reliability, or cost.

The discipline of Materials Science and Engineering links scientific research with applied engineering to design materials for specialized uses. This field draws upon many areas in both the scientific and engineering realms. From science, the study of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and computer science each play a part in explaining the origin of unique properties found in a substance. The engineering knowledge and experience of ceramists, metallurgists, electrical, mechanical, and chemical engineers are brought to bear in the application of these properties for a required use. It is this combination of scientific exploration and practical, hands-on engineering that makes this field so fascinating.

Materials Blog

Being a materials & metallurgical engineer and a blogger, I decided to fuse these two traits of mine and create a blog dedicated to the amazing world of materials and metallurgy. The sole aim of this endeavor is to tell the world about this field of materials, recent advances and developments and interesting historical facts.

Apart from comments, I would greatly welcome relevant articles, news items, links etc from other bloggers and readers.