Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Finishing touches: New alloys offer alternative to chrome

MIT materials scientist Christopher Schuh stands next to a truck bumper coated with a new nickel-tungsten alloy that could replace chrome plating.
MIT materials scientist Christopher Schuh stands next to a truck bumper coated with a new nickel-tungsten alloy that could replace chrome plating.

Abstract:
Ever since the 1940s, chrome has been used to add a protective coating and shiny luster to a wide range of metal products, from bathroom fixtures to car bumpers. The new coating, which is now being tested on the bumpers of a truck fleet, could also replace chrome in faucet fixtures and engine parts, among other applications.


Finishing touches: New alloys offer alternative to chrome

Cambridge, MA | Posted on May 25th, 2009

Anne Trafton, News Office: Ever since the 1940s, chrome has been used to add a protective coating and shiny luster to a wide range of metal products, from bathroom fixtures to car bumpers.

Chrome adds beauty and durability, but those features come at a heavy cost. Though it's cheap to produce and harmless to consumers, the industrial process to create it is dangerous for workers and pollutes the environment.

"People have been trying to replace it for a very long time," says Christopher Schuh, MIT associate professor of materials science and engineering. "The problem is that it's the only plated metal coating that has all of these properties -- hardness, long-lasting shine and corrosion protection."

Until now, that is. Schuh and his collaborators have developed a new nickel-tungsten alloy that is not only safer than chrome but also more durable. The new coating, which is now being tested on the bumpers of a truck fleet, could also replace chrome in faucet fixtures and engine parts, among other applications.

Chromium risks
Manufacturers have long had a love/hate relationship with chromium plating, which is a $20 billion industry.

Electroplating, the technique used to coat metal objects with chrome, involves running a current through a liquid bath of chromium ions, which deposits a thin layer of chrome on the surface of an object placed in the bath.

The ions, known as hexavalent chromium, are carcinogenic if inhaled, and contact with the liquid can be fatal. Hexavalent chromium can pollute groundwater, and some of the original Superfund cleanup sites involved hexavalent chromium pollution. "It's an environmental nightmare," says Schuh.

Manufacturers have put up with the mess and the safety hazards, which require strict handling precautions, because of chrome's unique properties.

Chrome's hardness -- it is considerably harder than steel -- comes from its nanocrystalline structure. Schuh and his group set out to duplicate that structure with a material that could be easily and safely electroplated.

They started with nanocrystalline nickel, but nickel on its own, though very hard when first plated, loses its hardness as the crystals gradually expand from nanoscale to microscale. Using computer models developed to predict material properties, Schuh settled on a nickel-tungsten alloy that is environmentally friendly and proved to be even more durable than chrome.

Nickel-tungsten alloys
Schuh's team has shown that nickel-tungsten alloys remain stable indefinitely at room temperature and are highly resistant to decomposition when heated. They can also be made harder and longer lasting than chrome.

In addition, the electroplating process is more efficient than that for chrome, because multiple layers can be applied in one step, which could save money for manufacturers.

"Not only do you get rid of the environmental baggage but you make a better product as well," says Schuh.

Schuh and his colleagues have described the new process in several journal articles published over the past few years, and Schuh recently gave an overview of the technology in the spring 2009 Wulff Lecture, sponsored by MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

The technology could be used to coat other products including shock absorbers and print rolls. Recent tests showed that print rolls coated with the new alloy lasted 10 times longer than their chrome-plated counterparts.

Another field of potential applications is electronics, particularly connectors for portable electronics (the jacks where power cords, headphones and other accessories are plugged in). Those connectors are now coated with a layer of gold, which must be thick to help prevent the corrosion of an inner layer of brass. Layering the nickel-tungsten alloy between the gold and brass layers could reduce corrosion and offer significant savings for electronics manufacturers by allowing them to use thinner layers of gold.

Schuh's collaborators on the new metal coating technology include Andrew Detor, a recent PhD graduate in materials science and engineering, and Alan Lund, a former MIT postdoctoral researcher and the current chief technology officer at Xtalic Corporation of Marlborough, Mass., which has commercialized the nickel-tungsten plating process.

The research was funded at MIT by the U.S. Army Research Office.

####

About MIT
The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
news office
room 11-400
77 massachusetts avenue
cambridge, ma 02139-4307
617-253-2700

Copyright © MIT

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin April 18th, 2014

Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair April 18th, 2014

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research Introduces the MFP-3D InfinityTM AFM Featuring Powerful New Capabilities and Stunning High Performance April 18th, 2014

Conductive Inks: booming to $2.8 billion by 2024 April 17th, 2014

Possible Futures

Virus structure inspires novel understanding of onion-like carbon nanoparticles April 10th, 2014

Local girl does good March 22nd, 2014

Surface Characteristics Influence Cellular Growth on Semiconductor Material March 12th, 2014

The "Tipping Point" February 12th, 2014

Discoveries

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin April 18th, 2014

Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair April 18th, 2014

Thinnest feasible membrane produced April 17th, 2014

More effective kidney stone treatment, from the macroscopic to the nanoscale April 17th, 2014

Materials/Metamaterials

Thinnest feasible membrane produced April 17th, 2014

INSCX™ exchange to present Exchange trade reporting mechanism for engineered nanomaterials (NMs) to UK regulation agencies, insurers and upstream/downstream users April 17th, 2014

Engineers develop new materials for hydrogen storage April 15th, 2014

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Lands First Major Order from Pemex, Mexico’s State-Owned Oil and Gas Company April 14th, 2014

Announcements

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin April 18th, 2014

Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair April 18th, 2014

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research Introduces the MFP-3D InfinityTM AFM Featuring Powerful New Capabilities and Stunning High Performance April 18th, 2014

Transparent Conductive Films and Sensors Are Hot Segments in Printed Electronics: Start-ups in these fields show above-average momentum, while companies working on emissive displays such as OLED are fading, Lux Research says April 17th, 2014

Environment

Trees go high-tech: process turns cellulose into energy storage devices April 7th, 2014

Fabricating Nanostructures with Silk Could Make Clean Rooms Green Rooms March 31st, 2014

University of Waterloo Engineering to Showcase Student Design March 14th, 2014

Iran Applying Nanotechnology in Growing Number of Industries March 10th, 2014

Industrial

Shiny quantum dots brighten future of solar cells: Photovoltaic solar-panel windows could be next for your house April 14th, 2014

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Lands First Major Order from Pemex, Mexico’s State-Owned Oil and Gas Company April 14th, 2014

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Announces Certification for Use in Middle East for Buildings: Nansulate(R) Energy Saving Coatings to be used by Major Middle East Energy Company April 1st, 2014

Harper Government Announces Support for U of S Nanoscience Research: Uses for New Nanostructured Coatings Range from Biomedical to Oil Sand Sectors March 29th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE







  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE