November 29, 2012

Nanocrystals reveal damaged material

Predicting material fatigue

A small crack in a metal wheel caused Germany’s worst-ever rail accident – the 1998 Eschede train disaster. The problem: it was practically impossible to detect damage of that nature to a metal by inspecting it externally. But now scientists have succeeded in making material fatigue visible. They designed new synthetic materials that emit light to report high mechanical stress.

Researchers from the Technische Universität München (TUM), Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) and Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) developed this new technology for composite materials. These light yet robust materials are able to withstand considerable mechanical loads. They are typically used in cars and medical equipment.