Ti's New Superalloy Could Soon Take Flight

Ever since the Wright brothers' first flight, researchers have hunted for lighter, stronger materials for aircraft parts and engines. In recent years, much of this search has focused on an exotic metal called gamma titanium aluminide. It is lighter than the nickel- and cobalt-based superalloys used in most aircraft engines, and it can withstand the superhigh temperatures generated by the most efficient jet engines. But there's a problem: The metal is extremely brittle--and shaping it into the thin foils, or sheets, that are mixed with ceramic fibers to form shafts, turbine blades, and other crucial structural parts of an engine has proved impossible.

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