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Nanopinion: Nanocrystals coating by friction. A new approach for advanced materials

In our latest guest column, Dr Bentejui Medina-Clavijo and Prof. Andrey Chuvilin take us on a historical journey to explore findings that confirm that when we talk about metals, “smaller is stronger”. They also describe the structure of metals, the latest research on how the friction process between two metals can change their surface properties and how industry can benefit from this.

“[..] If a grain size of a bulk metal is made smaller than 100 nm, the material becomes stronger. These tiny metallic pieces are called nanocrystals. This change on the macroscopic properties happens because the plastic deformation mechanism that determines the force that the material is able to withstand before it loses its original shape, changes dramatically when reducing the size. This effect is related to the inter-defects distance of crystals, which is the distance between the imperfections (like grain boundaries) appearing in the atomic structures of metals and which disturb locally the regular arrangement of the atoms. This little distance between defects is indeed of key importance for everyday life as it defines properties of the materials at the macroscopic level, such as strength, wear resistance, or ductility (the ability to sustain deformation without failure).”

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