For tiny fractions of a second, when illuminated by a laser pulse, quartz glass can take on metallic properties. The phenomenon, recently revealed by large-scale computer simulations, frees electrons, allowing quartz to become opaque and conduct electricity. The effect could be used to build logical switches which are much faster than today’s microelectronics.
Combining theory and numerical simulations,...
Scientists at Yale Univ. have devised a dramatically faster way of identifying and...
Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are working toward even stronger and more elastic glass types which would fail in a ductile fashion instead of shattering. Researchers there are looking at the initiation of shear-banding events in order to better understand how to control the mechanical properties of these materials.
U.K. scientists have succeeded in measuring how the surfaces of glassy materials flow like a liquid, even when they should be solid. A series of simple and elegant experiments were the solution to a problem that has been plaguing condensed matter physicists for the past 20 years. The finding has implications for thin-film coating designs.
To attach itself to surfaces, the marine sponge Monorhaphis chuni forms an unusual glass rod. Researchers have recently analyzed the nanostructure of the filament passing through the center of this glass rod and discovered that it is formed with a perfect periodic arrangement of nanopores. In this way, the sponge employs a similar method that is now used for fabrication of man-made mesoporous nanomaterials.
A team at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics in Germany has constructed a detector which provides a detailed picture of the waveforms of femtosecond laser pulses. Knowledge of the exact waveform of these pulses enables scientists to reproducibly generate light flashes that are a thousand times shorter, just attoseconds, and can be used to study ultrafast processes at the molecular and atomic levels.
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.
In an advance that could dramatically shrink particle accelerators for science and medicine, researchers used a laser to accelerate electrons at a rate 10 times higher than conventional technology in a nanostructured glass chip smaller than a grain of rice.
Cell phone cameras improve with every new model, but are still lacking in the fine resolution department. A team of researchers have created a miniature system that has the same quality as a full-size, wide-angle lens but is about the size of a walnut. The new system could be used to build a camera that pans and zooms with no moving parts.
At just a molecule thick, it's a new record: The world's thinnest sheet of glass, a serendipitous discovery by scientists at Cornell Univ. and Germany's Univ. of Ulm, has been recorded for posterity in the Guinness Book of World Records. The remarkable material was an accidental byproduct of a graphene fabrication process.
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.
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