New Platinum-Gold Alloy Showed Better Strength than High-Class Steels


Researchers had made a new platinum alloy to strengthen more the steel formation. / Photo by: Periodictableru via Wikimedia Commons


In the list of strongest alloys, carbon steels, maraging steels, and stainless steels occupy the upper echelon. But a team of engineers developed a contender: a platinum-gold alloy that features similar class as the diamond.

Alloys are used in several applications, such as in the production of cars and engine parts, because of their incredible strength degree. Carbon steels with a carbon content of 2.1 percent by weight can yield a strength of 260 megapascals and tensile strength of 580 MPa. While stainless steels can yield a strength of up to 1,560 MPa and up to 1,600 MPa of tensile strength.

Although those alloys display enormous strength, engineers at Sandia National Laboratories created what they say is the most durable alloy ever made. It is a new material made from the combination of two high-priced metals: platinum and gold. The new metal alloy displayed an estimated 100 times more resistance to wear and tear, compared to high-strength steel.

"Many traditional alloys were developed to increase the strength of a material by reducing grain size. Even still, in the presence of extreme stresses and temperatures many alloys will coarsen or soften, especially under fatigue,” said John Curry, a postdoctoral appointee at Sandia.

The alloy they produced is composed of 90 percent platinum and 10 percent gold. According to the engineers, the durability of the new alloy can be related with a very long-lasting performance of tires made from it. If the tires skidded for one mile, only a single layer of atoms will be worn off. For the tread to be exhausted, the car must drift of about 500 times around the planet’s equator.

When they tested the alloy, a black film formed on the top part and has been found as a diamond-like carbon. It is an effective lubricant typically produced in a separate, expensive process. 

In totality, the engineers have been able to produce a strong metal alloy and a useful lubricant for industrial applications.