Not just a tin can

Using nanotechnology, researchers have found a way to make tin harder and thus enabling it to be used in the automotive and electrical industries, not just in the food packaging. This may have implications for the future consumption of tin.

Title of project: Compositionally Modulated Multilayer (CMM) Coatings Consisting Of Multiple Alternate Nanolayers of Yellow And White Miralloys

Prof. Hj. Zainal Arifin Hj. Ahmad
Dr. Sunara Purwadaria
Dr. Ahmad Azmin Mohamed
Nur Azam Badarulzaman

Malaysia is one of the largest integrated producer of tin metal and tin-based products in the world. Therefore, it is very concerned about the world annual tin demand, especially as the world tin consumption has not really grown in the past 20 years after it is was drastically reduced mainly due to tin cans being made by other materials. Since pure tin is a non-toxic metal and resistant to organic acids, tin is used to electroplate steel plate for producing tin cans. Consequently, the application of tin coating is mostly for food packaging and is not for the automotive industries which needed much harder and abrasion resistant coatings.

However, this may soon change as researchers from University Sains Malaysia have developed, Miralloy, a tin alloy coating which can be used in the automotive and electrical industries.

The hardness of tin alloy coatings such as White Miralloy (55%Cu-30%Sn-15%Zn) and Yellow Miralloy (80%Cu-17.5%Sn-2.5%Zn) are 550HV and 400HV respectively. Due to their hardness, the coatings have been applied in automotive and electrical industries.

More applications will be expected if the mechanical properties of the coatings which include hardness, toughness, abrasion resistant etc. can be significantly improved and this will be done via the development of compositionally modulated multilayer (CMM) coatings consisting of multiple alternate nanolayers of Yellow and White Miralloys. Using this method, the hardness of coatings may increase up to 700HV when the thickness of each layer is decreased down 20 nm.

The hardness increase will be followed by an increase of toughness, abrasion resistant and electrical conductivity of coatings.

In summary:

1. Using the same approach, other systems such as CMM consisting of multiple alternate nanolayer of White Miralloy and other metals or alloys can be developed.

2. The application of tin-alloys coating will be extended not only in automotive industries but also for other applications. This can contribute to re-increase world tin consumption and maintain the existence of the Malaysian tin industry.

3. Introducing nano-technology in Malaysian electroplating industries.

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Bron: Metaalunie