Fast development of space technologies poses a strong challenge for elastic materials, which need to be not only lightweight, strong and compliant, but also able to maintain stable elasticity over a wide temperature range1,2,3,4. Here we report a lightweight magnesium–scandium strain glass alloy (Mg with 21.3 at.% Sc) that meets this challenge. This alloy is as light (density ~2 g cm–3) and compliant as organic-based materials5,6,7 like bones and glass fibre reinforced plastics, but in contrast with those materials, it possesses a nearly temperature-independent (or Elinvar-type), ultralow Young’s modulus (~20–23 GPa) over a wide temperature range from room temperature down to 123 K; a higher yield strength of ~200–270 MPa; and a long fatigue life of over one million cycles. As a result, it exhibits a relatively high, temperature-independent elastic energy density of ~0.5 kJ kg–1 among known materials at a moderate stress level of 200 MPa. We show that its exceptional properties stem from a strain glass transition, and the Elinvar-type elasticity originates from its moderate elastic softening effect cancelling out the ever-present elastic hardening. Our findings provide insight into designing materials that possess unconventional and technologically important elastic properties.
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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51701150, 51831006, 52071257, 51901243) and the National 111 Project 2.0 (BP2018008).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Liu, C., Ji, Y., Tang, J. et al. A lightweight strain glass alloy showing nearly temperature-independent low modulus and high strength. Nat. Mater. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-022-01298-y