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QinetiQ breakthrough produces world’s
smallest stainless steel powder

Tesimorph™ ES-25 has great promise for powder metallurgy and in magnetic applications



18-02-2005--QinetiQ Nanomaterials Limited (QNL) today announced its development of Tesimorph™ ES-25 - an experimental magnetic stainless steel material with a particle size of 25 nanometres – many times smaller than anything currently available. The result of QNL’s experimental work on alloyed and structured metal nanoparticles, this production breakthrough is particularly applicable to applications like metal injection moulding where smoother flows and therefore finer component detail can be achieved.

Conventional process methods for other steel powders tend to produce relatively large, micron size particles. The Tesima® process can produce commercial quantities of nano size particles, opening up a wide range of potential applications for stainless steel nanopowder for the first time.

“We have always known that the Tesima® process has great flexibility and a far greater range of capability than the manufacture of basic metal and oxide nanopowders,” explains Dr Paul Reip, Managing Director of QNL. “This latest development is part of our ongoing work on complex and modified nanomaterials under the Tesimorph™ brand. We are in the early stages of creating a diverse range of complex and structured materials, including alloys that for the first time can be made at the nano scale. Potential applications for Tesimorph™ ES-25 and related nanomaterials include metal injection moulding, ultra fine filters, coatings and security features.”

He continues: “Having initially developed a range of generic compounds and basic metals we started to look at more complicated advanced materials. Such materials can combine a number of different functionalities at the nano scale and some of the most difficult nanomaterials to produce are alloys. Tesimorph™ ES-25 is our first move into this area and we believe that it will be the first of a family of such materials, from steels to new materials such as shape memory alloys.”

QNL Commercial Director Dr Mike Pitkethly adds: “We have now reached a point where we are actively seeking industrial partners to further develop this family of metallic Tesimorph™ nanomaterials and bring them to market. The key issue is always the need to scale-up the manufacture. The Tesima® process can be scaled to produce consistent and reproducible product and is an excellent match for large scale industrial development.’’

QNL develops bespoke metal, oxide, carbide and nitride nanopowders in the 20nm to 100nm particle size range for specific customer applications using its patented Tesima® process. The process is continuous, allowing extended operation and is scaleable so that quantities from kilogrammes to tonnes are possible. By incorporating materials at the nano scale, different physical properties can be added to existing materials, either improving their functionality or giving them unique properties. Powders are manufactured dry but can also be incorporated into other media, such as liquids or polymers.

Recently developed nanomaterials include: silver, a material with numerous applications, particularly valued for its anti-microbial properties; aluminium for energetics and explosive applications; cuprous oxide for anti-fungal applications; tungsten carbide for cermets; zinc oxide for UV protection; and cerium oxide for catalysts.

QNL is a wholly owned subsidiary of QinetiQ Group, Europe’s largest research and technology organisation.

Notes QinetiQ

· Tesimorph™ES-25 is part of QNL’s special Tesimorph™ product range of materials that also includes mixed oxides, layered materials, doped materials such as yttria stabilised zirconia and non stoichiometric materials. Other products under QinetiQ’s Tesima® brand comprise: Tesimox™, a family of oxides with sizes ranging from 20 to 100nm and includes ZnO, ZrO2, CuO, Cu2O, SnO2, TiO2, CeO2, Al2O3; Tesimet™ which comprises pure metals and alloys such as Al, Cu, Ag, to which passivation layers can also be applied during manufacture; and Tesimide™ which consists of metal carbides and nitrides including the recent successful manufacture of 60nm WC.

· QinetiQ (pronounced ki’ ne tik as in ‘kinetic energy’) is Europe’s largest science and technology solutions company with unrivalled expertise in the defence and security sectors. Founded In July 2001, from the majority of DERA (Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) the laboratories of the UK MOD, QinetiQ directly employs nearly 10,000 people, including many of the UK's leading scientists and internationally acclaimed experts. Today QinetiQ operates in markets as diverse as defence, security, automotive, information technology, health, aerospace, rail, telecommunications, electronics, space, marine, energy and oil & gas.

· QinetiQ's facilities include indoor and outdoor ranges, wind tunnels and noise test facilities, marine testing facilities, automotive test tracks and climatic testing laboratories. Its heritage covers the pioneering research and development of many household technologies. These include liquid crystal displays (LCDs), carbon fibre, the technology for flat panel speakers, infra-red sensors and microwave radar, a life saving foetal heart monitoring system, plus other significant advancements in the areas of healthcare, passenger security and transport.

· Building on its defence and security expertise, QinetiQ is now developing an impressive overseas customer base. As part of this process it has established a US based sales operation in Arlington to forge closer links with this potentially massive market. In September 2004 it also acquired the businesses of Foster-Miller Inc for £91.8m ($163m) and Westar Aerospace & Defense Group for £72.2m ($130m). Both are wholly-owned subsidiaries of QinetiQ North America but remain autonomous, retaining their names, core management teams, employees and US facilities.

For further information, please contact

Douglas Millard in the QinetiQ Press Office on Tel: +44 (0) 1252 394611 / 3500

Email: DMillard@QinetiQ.com / PressOffice@QinetiQ.com

A1 Building, Cody Technology Park, Ively Road, Farnborough, HANTS GU14 0LX


 

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