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Metallic Glass


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Space Platforms 

OBJECTIVE: Develop materials with greater strength and resilience for spacecraft structures and mechanisms. 

DESCRIPTION: Metallic Glass is a relatively new class of materials that can have the rare combination of strength, resilience and toughness. It is a metal alloy that formed by a particular schedule of rapid heating and cooling that results in a disorganized, partially crystalized structure verses the organized crystalline structure of typical metals and alloys. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency funded research in this area with a grant to a collaboration of USC, Cal Tech and the Jacobs School of Engineering (grant HDTRA1-11-1-0067). They showed that certain formulations have an elastic limit that exceeds stainless steel by a factor of nearly 100 and silicon carbide by a factor of two. Such a material may have additional space application in booster, adapter, and engine structures where high elastic limit is critical, and satellites for impact shielding as well as certain structural purposes. This topic would survey, characterize, and devise applications for metallic glass. Assess the effects of space environment on the materials and determine properties over long periods of space flight and assess the thermal properties of the material. Determine the cost-benefit of replacing classic metal alloys and/or composites in space applications where a high elastic limit is key. 

PHASE I: Survey recent advancements in metallic glass. Characterize properties for applications to structures and mechanisms for spacecraft. Assess best options for product development and insertion into spacecraft design. Provide plan to make the first metal glass component(s). Indicate cost-benefit of using metallic glass. Raise TRL to 2+. 

PHASE II: Using output of Phase I, produce a space component of the chosen metallic glass. Test component response to relevant spacecraft environment: Vacuum, radiation, thermal response. Test component functionality and compare to existing technology. Raise TRL to 3+. 

PHASE III: Devise transition plans, strategy to disperse product to larger market: commercialize spacecraft solar arrays, bulkheads, actuators, reaction wheels, aircraft, manned/unmanned, wing roots, flaps, slats, speed brakes, helicopter rotors and blades, shielding and body armor. Identify ancillary markets and applications where metallic glass can replace existing materials. 


1: Khanolkar, Gauri R., Rauls, Michael B., Kelly, James P., Graeve, Olivia A., Hodge, Andrea M., Eliasson, Veronica. Shock Wave Response of Iron-based In Situ Metallic Glass Matrix Composites. Scientific Reports, 2016/03/02/

2:  Chen, Q.J., Shen, J., Zhang, D. L., Fan, H. B. & Sun, J. F. Mechanical Performance and fracture behavior of Fe41Co7Cr15Mo14Y2C15B6 bulk metallic glass. J Mater Res 22, 358-363 (2007).

3:  Lu, Z. P., Liu, C. T., Thompson, J. R. & Porter, W. D. Structural amorphous steels. Phys Rev Let 92, 245503 (2004).

4:  Shamimi Nouri, A., Liu, Y. & Lewandowski, J. J. Effects of thermal exposure and test temperature on structure evolution and hardness/viscosity of an iron-based metallic glass. Metall Mater Trans A 40, 1314-1323 (2009).


KEYWORDS: Metallic Glass, Crystalline Structure, Space Environment, Spacecraft Design 

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