Superalloys, or high-performance alloys, are non-ferrous alloys that exhibit outstanding strength and surface stability at high temperatures. Their ability to operate safely at a high fraction of their melting point (up to 85% of their melting points (Tm) expressed in degrees Kelvin, 0.85) is their key characteristics. Superalloys are generally used at temperatures above 540 °C (1000 °F), as at these temperatures ordinary steel and titanium alloys are losing their strengths, also corrosion is common in steels at this temperature. At high temperatures, superalloys retain mechanical strength, resistance to thermal creep deformation, surface stability, and resistance to corrosion or oxidation. Some nickel-based superalloys can withstand temperatures beyond 1200°C, depending on the composition of the alloy. Superalloys are often cast as a single crystal, while grain boundaries may provide strength, they decrease creep resistance.
This class of alloys is relatively new. In 2006, Sato et al. discovered a new phase in the Co–Al–W system. Unlike other superalloys, cobalt-based alloys are characterized by a solid-solution-strengthened austenitic (fcc) matrix in which a small quantity of carbide is distributed. While not used commercially to the extent of Ni-based superalloys, alloying elements found in research Co-based alloys are C, Cr, W, Ni, Ti, Al, Ir, and Ta. They possess better weldability and thermal fatigue resistance as compared to nickel based alloy. Moreover, they have excellent corrosion resistance at high temperatures (980-1100 °C) because of their higher chromium contents.