Inter-metallic quasi-crystals were first
isolated as early as 1984. These special particles combine aluminium
and other metals (manganese, lithium) and have unique properties
compared to other crystalline materials, including high mechanical
strength, high thermal isolation and low friction coefficient.
This project was aimed at improving the
performance of inter-metallic quasi-crystals, developing new coating
technologies and new commercial applications. The industrial processes
for the production of quasi-crystals was optimised and a variety
of depositing techniques were investigated.
The first commercially exploitable result
is a material which can replace Teflonâ as a polymeric coating
substrate in frying pans. Cristomeâ, a product developed by
SNMI, an SME manufacturer and prime project partner, offers scratch
resistance well beyond that of current polymeric coatings, while
its non-adhesive properties meet the most demanding specifications.
Partners say this is only a starting point.
The strong commercial base provided by this consumer goods application
will allow continued research on more advanced applications now
envisaged in the automotive and aerospace sectors. Similar developments
are now being sought in Japan, China and the US.