April 04, 2005
First Transparent Aluminum, Now This

Also from New Scientist: a report on the latest thing in material science, metallic glass. It's got the strength of a metal but the "springy-ness" of a liquid, and is now starting to be made cheaply in large quantities. What's it good for? So far the applications include medical devices, scalpel blades, and tennis rackets, but after decades of slow development the field is unfolding very rapidly. From what's in the article, pretty much anything that's made of cast metal could benefit from the stuff. Maybe my next bicycle will be made out of it?

Posted by scott at April 04, 2005 02:33 PM

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As usual, the article doesn't mention the problems with amorphous metals until the very end of the article, well after the average user has stopped reading and headed to eBay to see if he can buy some of this stuff. The biggest problem with amorphous metals is their tendancy to gradually crystalize. Crystalline metals are crystalline because the atoms in the metal are, by nature, powerfully attracted to one another at points that result in the formation of crystalline matrices. This can be temporarily overridden using the methods listed in the article, but over time the atoms are going to line right back up into crystals, even without the disruption of kinetic impacts.

Sounds nice, but the real news (if there actually was any in this little press release) would be if they found an alloy that would not re-crystalize over a trivial lifespan. Since the article doesn't even mention the problem with re-crystalization (except by crediting it to other things, as in their broken golf club paragraph), I'm guessing they haven't, and this whole article is just trying to generate buzz for an industry that is probably going nowhere.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian on April 5, 2005 12:30 PM

give it time, give it time. The entire computer industry took awhile to get working. Right now, I'd say this is great news. Now they're starting to get the liquid metals manufactured in a more efficient manner. Once this starts to happen, applications will start to come out of the woodwork. And that will prompt some grad student out there, somewhere, to figure out how to resist the urge to crystallize and they'll pop up everywhere.

Posted by: ronaprhys on April 6, 2005 06:53 PM

Will it turn out like computers, or like superconductors? My money's on superconductors.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian on April 8, 2005 02:02 AM
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