Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Metallic glass: a drop of the hard stuff

Filed under
Sci/Tech

In the past year, researchers have made metallic glass three times stronger than the best industrial steel and 10 times springier. Almost a match for the Terminator, in other words.

Metallic glass sounds like an oxymoron, and in a way it is. It describes a metal alloy with a chaotic structure. While metal atoms normally arrange themselves in ordered arrays, or crystals, the atoms in a metallic glass are a disordered jumble, rather like the atoms in a liquid or a glass. And although strictly speaking a metallic glass isn't a liquid, because the atoms are fixed in place, one company is already marketing the stuff as "liquid metal".

It is the unusual structure that makes metallic glass so promising. In crystalline metal alloys, the atoms are ordered within regions called "grains", and the boundaries between the grains are points of weakness in the material. Metallic glasses, however, have no grain boundaries, so they are much stronger. Hit a crystalline metal with a hammer and it will bend, absorbing some of the energy of the blow by giving way along grain boundaries. But the atoms in an amorphous metal are tightly packed, and easily bounce back to their original shape after a blow (see Diagram). These materials lack bulky crystalline grains, so they can be shaped into features just 10 nanometres across. And their liquid-like structure means they melt at lower temperatures, and can be moulded nearly as easily as plastics.

No wonder companies are interested. The trouble is, no one was able to make a useful metallic glass until very recently. That is because, when molten alloys are cooled down, they inevitably begin to crystallise, with ordered arrays of atoms growing from various points in the molten liquid. To make a metallic glass, crystallisation needs to be stopped in its tracks. This should happen if a liquid is cooled extremely fast, but just putting a cupful of molten metal into a freezer won't cool it fast enough.

But by pouring molten metal onto a cold, rapidly rotating copper cylinder, one could make sheets of "superfrozen" amorphous metal. The problem was that the sheets he made were only a few nanometres thick. If the rotation of the cylinder is slowed to try to make a thicker sheet it left enough time for crystals to form.

You won't know it to look at them, but before too long many of the metallic parts in everyday products will be the stuff of the Terminator.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Proxmox VE 4.3 released

Proxmox Server Solutions GmbH today announced the general availability of Proxmox Virtual Environment 4.3. The hyper-converged open source server virtualization solution enables users to create and manage LXC containers and KVM virtual machines on the same host, and makes it easy to set up highly available clusters as well as to manage network and storage via an integrated web-based management interface. The new version of Proxmox VE 4.3 comes with a completely new comprehensive reference documentation. The new docu framework allows a global as well as contextual help function. Proxmox users can access and download the technical documentation via the central help-button (available in various formats like html, pdf and epub). A main asset of the new documentation is that it is always version specific to the current user’s software version. Opposed to the global help, the contextual help-button shows the user the documentation part he currently needs. Read more

Games for GNU/Linux

Security News

  • Tuesday's security updates
  • New Open Source Linux Ransomware Divides Infosec Community
    Following our investigation into this matter, and seeing the vitriol-filled reaction from some people in the infosec community, Zaitsev has told Softpedia that he decided to remove the project from GitHub, shortly after this article's publication. The original, unedited article is below.
  • Fax machines' custom Linux allows dial-up hack
    Party like it's 1999, phreakers: a bug in Epson multifunction printer firmware creates a vector to networks that don't have their own Internet connection. The exploit requirements are that an attacker can trick the victim into installing malicious firmware, and that the victim is using the device's fax line. The firmware is custom Linux, giving the printers a familiar networking environment for bad actors looking to exploit the fax line as an attack vector. Once they're in that ancient environment, it's possible to then move onto the network to which the the printer's connected. Yves-Noel Weweler, Ralf Spenneberg and Hendrik Schwartke of Open Source Training in Germany discovered the bug, which occurs because Epson WorkForce multifunction printers don't demand signed firmware images.
  • Google just saved the journalist who was hit by a 'record' cyberattack
    Google just stepped in with its massive server infrastructure to run interference for journalist Brian Krebs. Last week, Krebs' site, Krebs On Security, was hit by a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that took it offline, the likes of which was a "record" that was nearly double the traffic his host Akamai had previously seen in cyberattacks. Now just days later, Krebs is back online behind the protection of Google, which offers a little-known program called Project Shield to help protect independent journalists and activists' websites from censorship. And in the case of Krebs, the DDoS attack was certainly that: The attempt to take his site down was in response to his recent reporting on a website called vDOS, a service allegedly created by two Israeli men that would carry out cyberattacks on behalf of paying customers.
  • Krebs DDoS aftermath: industry in shock at size, depth and complexity of attack
    “This attack didn’t stop, it came in wave after wave, hundreds of millions of packets per second,” says Josh Shaul, Akamai’s vice president of product management, when Techworld spoke to him. “This was different from anything we’ve ever seen before in our history of DDoS attacks. They hit our systems pretty hard.” Clearly still a bit stunned, Shaul describes the Krebs DDoS as unprecedented. Unlike previous large DDoS attacks such as the infamous one carried out on cyber-campaign group Spamhaus in 2013, this one did not use fancy amplification or reflection to muster its traffic. It was straight packet assault from the old school.
  • iOS 10 makes it easier to crack iPhone back-ups, says security firm
    INSECURITY FIRM Elcomsoft has measured the security of iOS 10 and found that the software is easier to hack than ever before. Elcomsoft is not doing Apple any favours here. The fruity firm has just launched the iPhone 7, which has as many problems as it has good things. Of course, there are no circumstances when vulnerable software is a good thing, but when you have just launched that version of the software, it is really bad timing. Don't hate the player, though, as this is what Elcomsoft, and what Apple, are supposed to be doing right. "We discovered a major security flaw in the iOS 10 back-up protection mechanism. This security flaw allowed us to develop a new attack that is able to bypass certain security checks when enumerating passwords protecting local (iTunes) back-ups made by iOS 10 devices," said Elcomsoft's Oleg Afonin in a blog post.
  • After Tesla: why cybersecurity is central to the car industry's future
    The news that a Tesla car was hacked from 12 miles away tells us that the explosive growth in automotive connectivity may be rapidly outpacing automotive security. This story is illustrative of two persistent problems afflicting many connected industries: the continuing proliferation of vulnerabilities in new software, and the misguided view that cybersecurity is separate from concept, design, engineering and production. This leads to a ‘fire brigade approach’ to cybersecurity where security is not baked in at the design stage for either hardware or software but added in after vulnerabilities are discovered by cybersecurity specialists once the product is already on the market.

Ofcom blesses Linux-powered, open source DIY radio ‘revolution’

Small scale DAB radio was (quite literally) conceived in an Ofcom engineer’s garden shed in Brighton, on a Raspberry Pi, running a full open source stack, in his spare time. Four years later, Ofcom has given the thumbs up to small scale DAB after concluding that trials in 10 UK cities were judged to be a hit. We gave you an exclusive glimpse into the trials last year, where you could compare the specialised proprietary encoders with the Raspberry Pi-powered encoders. “We believe that there is a significant level of demand from smaller radio stations for small scale DAB, and that a wider roll-out of additional small scale services into more geographic areas would be both technically possible and commercially sustainable,” notes Ofcom. Read more