Interesting, but confusing as well.
The press release says "Tests show that under applied stress normally large enough to produce a change in shape, the alloy undergoes internal changes that actually increase its ability to resist further deformation and wear." Alright, reduced ductility and increased wear resistance usually go hand in hand.
The patent application can be found here "Ductile intermetallic compounds for dental applications":http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=/netahtml/search-adv.htm&r=1&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=ptxt&S1=waterstrat-richard-m.INZZ.&OS=in/waterstrat-richard-m&RS=IN/waterstrat-richard-m
Claim #1 of the patent aplication is "An alloy composition having a cubic CsCl or B2 type structure which can undergo stress-induced martensitic transformations at or near mouth or body temperature and consisting essentially of about 35 to about 60% by weight zirconium, about 1 to about 60% palladium, and about 1 to about 60% ruthenium." So far, so good, in steels the martensitic structure yields lower ductility and higher hardness and wear resistance. No surprises so far.
But then the description of the invention in the application says "This invention relates to alloy compounds which undergo stress-induced martensitic transformations at or near mouth or body temperature. A martensitic transformation occurs in these alloys when they transform under stress from a cubic CsCl or B2 type structure, which is stable at elevated temperatures, to a CrB type structure that is stable at a lower temperature. This type of transformation increases the ductility of these alloys...Methods of enhancing the ductility of high strength steels and other alloys, through a combination of elements enabling the formation of stress-induced martensitic structures appear in the prior art."
This throws me. I only know enough about the heat treatment of steels to be dangerous, but I've NEVER heard of martensite causing GREATER ductility than one would get from the ferritic or austenitic phases of the same alloy. And even if there was one, it certainly wouldn't be more difficult to machine in the more ductile phase.
It seems to me that there's something fishy here. I'm hesitant to give this credence merely because it got a patent, I've seen patents given on descriptions that involve violations of the laws of fluid dyanmics.