Metal and alloy applications with Scandium have the potential to revolutionise the electronics, aerospace, defence, and wider advanced industries.
The historically high cost of scandium is fast reducing given recent development of mining in Canada, Australia and the US, but creating a unified and harmonised alloy is a challenge that traditional manufacturers cannot meet economically or technically.
Where conventional processing methods have struggled to obtain a high content Aluminium Scandium master alloy, Metalysis has demonstrated the ability to create a Scandium Tri-Aluminide (Al3Sc) alloy with a Scandium loading of 36wt% (25 atom%), in the form of a powder, or sintered compact.
At these Scandium concentrations, the material can be employed as a master-alloy addition, being reduced to the desired level (e.g., 2% Sc) where required.
Adding a small amount of Scandium to Aluminium greatly improves the strength, hardness, weldability and corrosion resistance of Aluminium. The chief benefit of Al3Sc for electronic applications is its high piezoelectric capabilities. Adding Sc drastically improves the piezoelectric qualities of an Aluminium base alloy sputtering target which can be used for internal components such as coating semiconductor chips, sputtering targets for AI-enabled devices, microchips and 5G networks. Radio frequency filters based on Bulk Acoustic Wave (BAW), rather than Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) technology, operate at higher frequencies and wider bandwidths, lending themselves to these 5G network applications.
Heat exchanger (HEX) innovations and micro-channel extrusions are an ideal commercial starting point for the uptake of new Al3Sc alloys given that it is a consistently growing market and one that demands the reduction of wall thickness and weight alongside the increasing performance of high-pressure coolants, such as CO2 – these are viable for the aerospace or automotive sectors particularly given the move to electric vehicles.
Due to its defined chemical composition the 36wt% Scandium containing Al3Sc is a more consistent product than the 2wt% Aluminium-Scandium with respect to Scandium loading.
High Scandium content in the alloy results in lower shipping costs (and environmental footprint) as customers are not paying to transport cheaper Aluminium around the globe.
The master alloy can reduce to 0.5% for light-weight structural applications – with defined Scandium loadings being achieved throughout this new product – aerospace and UAV construction.