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

today's howtos

Security: Uber Sued, Intel ‘Damage Control’, ZDNet FUD, and XFRM Privilege Escalation

  • Uber hit with 2 lawsuits over gigantic 2016 data breach
    In the 48 hours since the explosive revelations that Uber sustained a massive data breach in 2016, two separate proposed class-action lawsuits have been filed in different federal courts across California. The cases allege substantial negligence on Uber’s part: plaintiffs say the company failed to keep safe the data of the affected 50 million customers and 7 million drivers. Uber reportedly paid $100,000 to delete the stolen data and keep news of the breach quiet. On Tuesday, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote: “None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it.”
  • Intel Releases Linux-Compatible Tool For Confirming ME Vulnerabilities [Ed: ‘Damage control’ strategy is to make it look like just a bug.]
    While Intel ME security issues have been talked about for months, confirming fears that have been present about it for years, this week Intel published the SA-00086 security advisory following their own internal review of ME/TXE/SPS components. The impact is someone could crash or cause instability issues, load and execute arbitrary code outside the visibility of the user and operating system, and other possible issues.
  • Open source's big weak spot? Flawed libraries lurking in key apps [Ed: Linux basher Liam Tung entertains FUD firm Snyk and Microsoft because it suits the employer's agenda]
  • SSD Advisory – Linux Kernel XFRM Privilege Escalation

gThumb 3.6 GNOME Image Viewer Released with Better Wayland and HiDPI Support

gThumb, the open-source image viewer for the GNOME desktop environment, has been updated this week to version 3.6, a new stable branch that introduces numerous new features and improvements. gThumb 3.6 comes with better support for the next-generation Wayland display server as the built-in video player, color profiles, and application icon received Wayland support. The video player component received a "Loop" button to allow you to loop videos, and there's now support for HiDPI displays. The app also ships with a color picker, a new option to open files in full-screen, a zoom popover that offers different zoom commands and a zoom slider, support for double-click activation, faster image loading, aspect ratio filtering, and the ability to display the description of the color profile in the property view. Read more Also: Many Broadway HTML5 Backend Improvements Land In GTK4

ExTiX 18.0, 64bit, with Deepin Desktop 15.5 (made in China!) and Refracta Tools – Create your own ExTiX/Ubuntu/Deepin system in minutes!

I’ve made a new extra version of ExTiX with Deepin 15.5 Desktop (made in China!). Deepin is devoted to providing a beautiful, easy to use, safe and reliable system for global users. Only a minimum of packages are installed in ExTiX Deepin. You can of course install all packages you want. Even while running ExTiX Deepin live. I.e. from a DVD or USB stick. Study all installed packages in ExTiX Deepin. Read more Also: ExTiX, the Ultimate Linux System, Now Has a Deepin Edition Based on Ubuntu 17.10 Kali Linux 2017.3 Brings New Hacking Tools — Download ISO And Torrent Files Here