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Directionally solidified materials


A false-color image of molybdenum pillars, formed as a grid of nearly defect-free single crystal rods, sticking out of a silicon carbide matrix.

Through a process known as directional solidification, ORNL researchers have grown materials with micrometer-sized nearly-perfect “pillars.” When they tested these materials, they found that the pillars had strength near their theoretical limit and far higher than in similar materials made by traditional methods. This points to a new direction for high-performance materials designed to function in extreme high-temperature and high-stress environments and offers the possibility of significantly increasing the operating temperature—and therefore the efficiency—of such things as turbines and tremen.dously decreasing the amount of material required to construct strong buildings, bridges, and automobiles.

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