A Transforming Metal Nanocomposite with Large Elastic Strain, Low Modulus, and High Strength

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Freestanding nanowires have ultrahigh elastic strain limits (4 to 7%) and yield strengths, but exploiting their intrinsic mechanical properties in bulk composites has proven to be difficult. We exploited the intrinsic mechanical properties of nanowires in a phase-transforming matrix based on the concept of elastic and transformation strain matching. By engineering the microstructure and residual stress to couple the true elasticity of Nb nanowires with the pseudoelasticity of a NiTi shape-memory alloy, we developed an in situ composite that possesses a large quasi-linear elastic strain of over 6%, a low Young's modulus of ˜28 gigapascals, and a high yield strength of ˜1.65 gigapascals. Our elastic strain-matching approach allows the exceptional mechanical properties of nanowires to be exploited in bulk materials.

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