Responsive Magnesium Alloys: A Novel Approach to Harnessing Corrrosion

Project: Research project

Project Details


TECHNICAL: Recently, PIs have produced a new class of sculptured vapor deposited materials in which the microstructures are controlled down to the nanometric scale. These novel structures are designed and produced to enhance certain specific surface characteristics such as: dramatically increased surface area/roughness; altered hydrogen storage capabilities, altered surface porosity and/or tailored surface morphology for delivery of drugs or other compounds; and altered surface micro and nano morphology to facilitate biointegration or biomimetics. A wide range of both micro and nano morphologies are possible for these surfaces. This work will focus on two main applications for sculptured vapor-deposited magnesium alloys: 1) as biodegradable and bioabsorbable materials (in orthopedic, orthodontic and/or cardiovascular implants), and 2) as materials for hydrogen storage (in fuel cells). The intellectual merit of this research rests on the PIs' ability to produce and characterize these new micro/nano scale surfaces to gain mechanistic understandings of the complex interaction between surface morphology, structure, chemistry and the desired engineering properties of the surface (e.g., biointegration, corrosion resistance, and wear resistance). NON-TECHNICAL: Magnesium and its alloys (because of their high strength-to-weight ratio) are being used increasingly in automotive, aerospace and electronic applications as advanced light-weight materials. Magnesium and Mg alloys are also used as battery electrodes, sacrificial anodes, and hydrogen storage materials. In addition, even negative features of Mg (like its poor corrosion resistance in neutral environments) can be viewed as an asset for some applications. Magnesium is also being considered as an attractive biomaterial since its high corrosion rate facilitates the biodegradability of implants made of magnesium alloys. Research will extend into areas of nanobiosciences, biomaterials, and nano-engineered materials. Fuel cell and bio-related applications were chosen because of their enormous impact on our society: efficient fuel cells would contribute to cleaner environment; efficient and safe bioimplants would lower health care costs. In addition, this project would provide results that help reestablish the US position in magnesium research. This team, especially Dr. Shaw, has long-term experience in mentoring female students. She has had 15 female students (graduate or senior thesis students) working under her guidance while at Penn State. In addition, there have been 7 other female post-doctoral fellows, research associates, exchange students and high school students in her group within the last 7 years. Clearly, one of the most effective methods of involving women in engineering is women teaming with (and mentoring) other women. This subtle, yet every effective, method of fostering the involvement of women in engineering will be continued in this research through the active recruitment of women graduate, undergraduate, and high school students to the research.

Effective start/end date7/1/066/30/09


  • National Science Foundation: $306,000.00


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