Self-assembled porous metal-intermetallic nanocomposites via liquid metal dealloying

Bernard Gaskey, Ian McCue, Alyssa Chuang, Jonah Erlebacher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


A major challenge in the synthesis of high surface area metals via subtractive processes such as dealloying is maintaining the mechanical integrity of the resulting porous materials. This problem is especially apparent in liquid metal dealloying, in which high-temperature selective dissolution in a molten metal bath leads to bicontinuous porosity formation. In liquid metal dealloying of polycrystalline alloys, grain boundary separation leads to the detachment of individual grains. In this work, we show that addition of small amounts of silicon to Nb–Ti or Ta–Ti parent alloys leads to the generation of self-assembled arrays of intermetallic (niobium silicide or tantalum silicide) plates that are structurally merged with the usual bicontinuous porosity seen in dealloying. These silicide plates pass through grain boundaries and hold the niobium or tantalum network intact without strongly affecting the microstructural evolution during dealloying. Our approach yields a mechanically robust porous metal-intermetallic composite, which can be further processed to form tertiary materials via re-impregnation by a new third phase. The materials design strategy introduced here can be generalized to serve as a platform to form dense multiphase nanocomposites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-300
Number of pages8
JournalActa Materialia
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Composites
  • Dealloying
  • Nanoporous
  • Niobium
  • Tantalum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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