December 4, 2017 – A multi-laboratory research team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory used neutrons, x-rays and computational modeling to “see” the atomic structures inside a new class of aluminum-cerium alloys created for automotive and aerospace applications. The structures occur when alloy components that have a high reaction affinity, or likelihood to bond, are combined. The attraction helps create the materials’ superior stability and strength. “The Al-Ce base alloy forms architectures that are inherently stable at elevated temperatures and under load,” said ORNL’s Orlando Rios, whose team also experimented with the alloy’s composition. “We found that adding minute amounts of other elements, such as 0.4 percent weight magnesium, achieved significant increases in alloy strength.” The research was conducted through the Critical Materials Institute, which has been developing high-value applications for cerium to boost the economics of mining rare-earth materials. The team’s paper was featured on the cover of Materials Horizons.