Using high pressure, scientists have created the first high-entropy metal alloy made of common metals to have a hexagonal close-packed (HCP) atomic structure.
This makes it lighter and stronger than comparable metal alloys with different structures.
Traditional alloys typically consist of one or two dominant metals with a pinch of other metals or elements thrown in. Classic examples include adding tin to copper to make bronze, or carbon to iron to create steel.
In contrast, “high-entropy” alloys consist of multiple metals mixed in approximately equal amounts. The result is stronger and lighter alloys that are more resistant to heat, corrosion, and radiation, and that might even possess unique mechanical, magnetic, or electrical properties.
Despite significant interest from material scientists, high-entropy alloys have yet to make the leap from the lab to actual products. One major reason is that scientists haven’t yet figured out how to precisely control the arrangement, or packing structure, of the constituent atoms.