Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Materials & Chemicals
Materials Chemicals
Improved Method for Incorporating and Uniformly Dispersing Nanoparticles into Metal-Based Materials
WARF: P120090US01

Inventors: Xiaochun Li, Hongseok Choi, Lianyi Chen, Jiaquan Xu

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a method for dispersing nanoparticles into a metal matrix to improve the properties of metal-based materials.
A nanocomposite is a reinforcing material that can be added to conventional materials to make them lightweight and ductile while also increasing their strength. Nanocomposites having high strength-to-weight ratios are of interest to a number of industries because they can be produced at low cost with properties comparable to more conventional, heavier materials; however, nanomaterials (e.g., nanoparticles, nanofibers, nanoplatelets, etc.) often align to grain boundaries or gather in clusters, which can limit their ability to enhance material properties. Furthermore, nanomaterials are difficult to handle as they tend to float to the surface of the molten metal and/or agglomerate such that they do not stay dispersed in the metal material. These challenges make it difficult to produce nanocomposite materials in industrial quantities. A new method for making nanocomposites is needed.
The Invention
UW–Madison researchers have developed a method to incorporate and uniformly disperse nanoparticles into a metal matrix through a combination of liquid state processing and solid state stirring. The method comprises introducing nanomaterials into a metal-based material in a liquid state, cooling the materials to a viscous state and stirring the materials to disperse the nanomaterials therein. The metal-based material may be used to maintain dispersion as the metal cools. Ultrasonic or mechanical stirring is used to initially disperse the nanomaterials within the molten metal, with subsequent stirring in the partially solidified state to break up clusters or other agglomerations of the nanomaterials.
  • Nanomaterial-based and metal-type master nanocomposites
  • Creating cast plates of metals such as aluminum or titanium alloy; metal plates could be processed in the sheet form or sectioned into smaller ingots
Key Benefits
  • Uniformly incorporates and disperses nanoparticles into metal matrices
  • Improves material properties such as strength and thermal characteristics
  • Continuous casting can scale-up this process to an industrially applicable level.
Stage of Development
Samples of Al 206 with alumina particles have been tested, as well as Al with graphene nanoplatelets using a single pass of friction stir processing.
Additional Information
For current licensing status, please contact Michael Carey at [javascript protected email address] or 608-960-9867