25 May '22
Looking into novel and promising materials for industry is an essential scientific discipline both in Russia and internationally. From enhancing the properties of existing materials to predicting those of brand new ones, university teams across Russia’s regions keep pushing for more breakthroughs, of which two deserve special attention here today.
Looking ahead at the future of composites
In Yaroslavl, 250km north-east of Moscow, researchers at the Yaroslavl State Technical University (YaSTU) bet on full computerization in predicting and designing new polymer composite materials. They believe their approach will make it possible to “dramatically cut” the cost of developing novel materials with unique properties for a range of sectors.
What drove the team in their research was the desire to step up the role computer-aided modeling plays in modern material sciences, which the researchers think is still subordinate. When designing new polymer composites, scientists have to approach the task blindly by trial and error, the Yaroslavl scientists think, thus squandering both time and resources. To make this history, YaSTU has apparently pioneered in developing a physical-mathematical model which the researchers claim would enable “sterling” computation of a material’s properties with all possible factors taken into account.
Processes in atoms and molecules which determine the properties of any prospective material take just picoseconds to complete (a picosecond is one trillionth of a second); while parts made from new polymer composites are expected to serve for years. That constitutes a serious problem in predicting properties, to which the Yaroslavl group has reportedly offered a solution.
Their model is based on a three-pronged approach innovatively combining quantum mechanics that describes the structure of atoms and molecules, Newton’s classical physics showing diffusion dynamics, and continuum mechanics based on Euler-Lagrange equations for assessing the mechanical behavior of materials modeled as a continuous mass rather than as discrete particles.
The team is now testing its method of forecasting property uniqueness on polymer composite coatings the scientists are developing for the aerospace and biotech sectors.
Making metals for aircraft stronger
As the Yaroslavl team focuses on composites, researchers in Perm, in the West Urals, set their sights on metals. Technology that comes from Perm Polytechnic (PPU) is expected to improve metals and alloys for mechanical engineering and aerospace. With the Perm coating application solution, the properties of metals could reportedly be altered and coating deposition materials saved considerably in the process.
The world of metalworking knows various coating application methods that make properties unique—but not all of those are equally serviceable. Ivan Ovchinnikov of PPU’s Department of Mechanics and Technology summed up a list of limitations such as the prohibitive cost of equipment for some users, challenging dimensions of parts to be coated, need for post-application machining, considerable loss of sprayed material, low efficiency, and some others.
In Perm, they offered a combination of micro-alloying and plasma treatment. In the process, the surface of a metal changes when impacted by a sprayed material. The technology is said to save spray and automate the process, whether it’s a uniform or irregularly shaped object.
The approach is believed to give processed metal surfaces winning properties such as enhanced rust and wear resistance.