Sure, an armored suit made of iron is great, but what if you could make it out of nano-iron? Nano-iron is harder and stronger than plain old iron, with a sweet crystalline structure sure to impress supermodels. That's probably exactly what researchers at NC State were thinking when they developed this new form of super-iron.
We've actually had nano-iron for a while - the crystalline structure that gives iron its physical properties is improved, making it significantly harder and stronger. One problem: at moderately high temperatures, the stuff is about as durable as an ice cream cone on a summer day. Since most manufacturing methods using iron involve high temperatures and pressures, that made previous versions of nano-iron even less useful than an ice cream cone on a summer day (melty nano-iron is neither tasty nor refreshing).
The NC State team's solution was to add one percent zirconium to the iron, giving it heat resistance somewhere near the melting point of regular iron, but all the awesomeness of nano-iron. They even gave the stuff a catchy name: Nanocrystalline FeZr Alloy (those are the chemical symbols for iron and zirconium, for those playing along at home).
We ran that by Tony Stark, but he says "FeZr Man" has poor branding potential. Image by: Marvel Studios.
Super-hard Nanocrystalline Iron Developed That Can Take The Heat. [Science Daily]