New faculty research on magnesium alloys opens opportunities for other discoveries

Bin Li, along with team of researchers, were recently featured in prestigious journal

Bin Li has been at the College of Engineering since 2014.

An aerial shot of campus.

Bin Li, assistant professor of chemical and materials engineering, published research on magnesium alloys in a recent issue of Science Magazine.

"As promising lightweight materials for automotive and aerospace applications, magnesium alloys have attracted tremendous attention from both academia and the industry," Li said.

However, these materials can come with obstacles, such as their poor formability at room temperature, attributed to low mobility of a type of crystal defect known as "pyramidal dislocations." These dislocations were believed to be responsible for the low ductility, a measurement of how malleable a metal is when it is mechanically deformed.

Li has expertise both in experimentation and computational materials science which is a discipline thriving on powerful computer simulations to incorporate materials models in different scales.

Li's research, a collaborative effort with universities from the United States, China, and Australia, used state-of-the-art transmission electron microscopy to observe the activities of pyramidal dislocations in a pure magnesium sample at submicron size. It revealed that the pyramidal dislocations are actually mobile and able to carry large plasticity, or the ability to be deformed without fracture.

"The discovery offers new insight to the design and processing of magnesium alloys," Li said.

Since being hired in 2014, Li has received two NSF grants and one MRI NSF grant to support his research, one of which focuses specifically on magnesium alloys and one in the area of high-strength steels.

He also is involved in the College of Engineering's new manufacturing quality minor which was introduced last fall.

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