From the production of tougher, more durable smartphones and other electronic devices, to a wider variety of longer lasting biomedical implants, bulk metallic glasses are poised to be mainstay materials for the 21st Century. Featuring a non-crystalline amorphous structure, bulk metallic glasses can be as strong or stronger than steel, as malleable as plastics, conduct electricity and resist corrosion.
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There may be more kinds of stuff than we thought. A team of researchers has reported possible evidence for a new category of solids, things that are neither pure glasses, crystals nor even exotic quasicrystals. Something else. The research team analyzed a solid alloy that they discovered in small discrete patches of a rapidly cooled mixture of aluminum, iron and silicon.
A new transparent, bio-inspired coating makes ordinary glass tough, self-cleaning and incredibly slippery, a team from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. reported. The new coating could be used to create durable, scratch-resistant lenses for eyeglasses, self-cleaning windows, improved solar panels and new medical diagnostic devices.
Thin glass is already widely used for displays. But even thinner glass, about one-tenth the thickness of display glass, can be customized to store energy at high temperatures. Recent experiments by a partnership of academic and industrial researchers have investigated various alkali-free glass compositions and thicknesses, and has resulted in inexpensive roll-to-roll glass capacitors with high energy density and high reliability.
Univ. of Alberta researchers have shown that a simple glass surface can be made to repel oil underwater. This has huge implications for development of a chemical repellent technology for use in cleaning up oil spills. At the time of spills, marine flora and fauna may come into contact with the oil, wreaking major damage. Underwater oil-repellent technology can potentially prevent the toxic effect of oil on marine ecosystems.
For the first time, scientists have mapped the structure of a metallic glass on the atomic scale, bringing them closer to understanding where the liquid ends and the solid begins in glassy materials. A study led by Monash Univ. researchers has used a newly developed technique on one of the world’s highest-resolution electron microscopes to understand the structure of a zirconium-based metallic glass.
Many solids are produced from melting, a process that creates complex internal stresses as the material cools. Until now, our understanding of the unique characteristics exhibited by the condition of the glass as compared with a tough molten mass has been spotty. A collaboration of several research teams in Europe has recently offered a surprisingly simple model to explain the difference between glass and molten materials.
Whether gas trapped under a frozen water layer flows through cracks or bursts out depends on the layer's depth and temperature, according to scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The water isn't crystalline ice; it is amorphous solid water, which is disordered and often described as a "frozen" liquid.
For the first time, researchers from Amsterdam University in The Netherlands and DESY in Germany have now monitored subtle structural changes in a glass made from microscopic silica spheres, which they exposed to shear stress. Using a unique experimental setup at DESY’s PETRA III X-ray source, the scientists discovered coexisting structural states in the glass and related them to its flow behavior.
Gelatin sets by forming a solid matrix full of random, liquid-filled pores—much like a saturated sponge. It turns out that a similar process also happens in some metallic glasses, substances whose molecular behavior has now been clarified by new Massachusetts Institute of Technology research detailing the “setting” of these metal alloys.
Using a principle similar to the way plastic bags shrivel and crumple in a fire, researchers at EPFL in Switzerland are using the electrical properties of a scanning electron microscope to change the size of glass capillary tubes at the nanoscale. Their method has already been patented and it could pave the way to many novel applications.
Glass doesn’t have to be brittle. In a recently published paper, a Yale University team and collaborators propose a way of predicting whether a given glass will be brittle or ductile—a desirable property typically associated with metals like steel or aluminum—and assert that any glass could have either quality.
Armed with a better understanding of how glasses age and evolve, researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison raise the possibility of designing a new class of materials at the molecular level via a vapor-deposition process.
Engineers at Yale University have developed a new breed of micro fuel cell that could serve as a long-lasting, low-cost, and eco-friendly power source for portable electronics. Major components of the new device are made of bulk metallic glasses, which can be finely shaped and molded using a comparatively efficient and inexpensive fabrication process akin to processes used in shaping plastics.
Metallic glass alloys (or liquid metals) are three times stronger than the best industrial steel, but can be molded into complex shapes with the same ease as plastic. These materials are highly resistant to scratching, denting, shattering, and corrosion. Mathematical methods developed by a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists will help explain why liquid metals have wildly different breaking points.
Despite its great importance to industries like semiconductors, glass has remained something of a mystery, at least with respect to the precise position of atoms that make up its structure. Researchers in Germany have recently analyzed the atomic structure of amorphous silica, and are the first to have imaged the network of silicon and oxygen atoms—the main components of glass—in a silica film.
A new way to make glass has been discovered by a collaboration of researchers at the Universities of Düsseldorf and Bristol using a method that controls how the atoms within a substance are arranged around each other. The researchers created the new type of glass in a computer through encouraging atoms in a nickel-phosphorous alloy to form a polyhedron.
Glass can possess a quite diverse array of characteristics, depending on what ingredients one uses to modify it. A new process developed at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany now makes the analysis of glass characteristics up to five times faster than previous methods, and uses only 20% of the material. This system consists of an oven and a CMOS camera that enables researchers to observe the glass during the entire heating process.
When it comes to physics, glass lacks transparency. No one has been able to see what’s happening at the molecular level as a super-cooled liquid approaches the glass state—until now. Emory University physicists have made a movie of particle motion during this mysterious transition.
Science is full of surprises. College of Wooster chemist Paul Edminston's search for a new way to detect explosives at airports instead led to the creation of what's now called "Osorb," swellable, organically modified silica, or glass, capable of absorbing oil and other contaminants from water.
Glass materials may have a far less randomly arranged structure than formerly thought. Over the years, the ideas of how metallic glasses form have been evolving, from just a random packing, to very small ordered clusters, to realizing that longer range chemical and topological order exists. A team of scientists at the Ames Laboratory has been able to show for the first time there is some organization to these structures.
Glass is strong enough for so much. But scientists who look at the structure of glass strictly by the numbers believe some of the latest methods from the microelectronics and nanotechnology industry could produce glass that's about twice as strong as the best available today. Rice University researchers have determined that a process called chemical vapor deposition, which is used industrially to make thin films, is one such process.
University of Sheffield researchers have shown, for the first time, that a method of storing nuclear waste normally used only for high level waste (HLW), could provide a safer, more efficient, and potentially cheaper, solution for the storage and ultimate disposal of intermediate level waste (ILW).
University of Oregon chemists have identified a catalyst that could dramatically reduce the amount of waste made in the production of methyl methacrylate, a monomer used in the large-scale manufacturing of lightweight, shatter-resistant alternatives to glass such as Plexiglas.
One of the most instantly recognizable features of glass is the way it reflects light. But a new way of creating surface textures on glass, developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, virtually eliminates reflections, producing glass that is almost unrecognizable because of its absence of glare—and whose surface causes water droplets to bounce right off, like tiny rubber balls.
A company in St. Helens, UK, has found one way to beat the most frustrating rule of nature, Murphy’s Law, which states that window washing begs for rain. But a Pilkington plc team of researchers led by Kevin Sanderson has exploited the power of the elements to engineer glass, normally tarnished by rain, to clean itself. Pilkington Activ Self-Cleaning Glass lets businesses and homeowners alike sit back and watch the rain do the washing.