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Bizarre Properties of Glass Allow Creation of "Metallic Glass"

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the wonder-woman-unavailable-for-comment dept.

Science 265

VindictivePantz writes to mention that scientists have discovered some bizarre properties of glass and are already applying that knowledge to create what is being called "metallic glass." "The breakthrough involved solving the decades-old problem of just what glass is. It has been known that that despite its solid appearance, glass and gels are actually in a 'jammed' state of matter — somewhere between liquid and solid — that moves very slowly. Like cars in a traffic jam, atoms in a glass are in something like suspended animation, unable to reach their destination because the route is blocked by their neighbors. So even though glass is a hard substance, it never quite becomes a proper solid, according to chemists and materials scientists."

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265 comments

Obligatory (1, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910055)

How bizarre.

How bizarre. (1, Funny)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910131)

How bizarre.

If you thought that was +x Funny, then... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910293)

Please take this questionairre [my3q.com] concerning the above post.

Re:If you thought that was +x Funny, then... (-1, Troll)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910483)

Huh... it says you're gay.

LIQUID ALUMINUM??????? (2, Funny)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910069)

Beam me up, Scotty!

Re:LIQUID ALUMINUM??????? (5, Funny)

lastchance_000 (847415) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910149)

I think you mean 'transparent aluminium"

Re:LIQUID ALUMINUM??????? (5, Funny)

wass (72082) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910423)

Hey, how do you know parent isn't the guy that invented it in the first place?

Re:LIQUID ALUMINUM??????? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910645)

Gut instinct tells me that he didn't, mostly because it was invented as part of a back story for a sci-fi movie. Yet again life mimics Star Trek. Set phasers to time displaced synchronicity!

Re:LIQUID ALUMINUM??????? (2, Funny)

Plutonite (999141) | about 6 years ago | (#23911411)

High UID, perhaps?

Re:LIQUID ALUMINUM??????? (4, Funny)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910755)

Liquid aluminum? I think you mean Transparent Aluminum. Oh, I see, you are using a keyboard. How quaint.

Aluminium glass (2, Funny)

javajawa (126489) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910073)

Is this the aluminium glass that Scotty spoke of?

Re:Aluminium glass (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910351)

The Air Force created a few years ago a translucent aluminum. They want to use it for cockpits and such because it's stronger than glass and doesn't scratch nearly as easily.

To me, that's the stuff that was predicted in Star Trek.

Re:Aluminium glass (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910671)

You're probably thinking of synthetic sapphire (which is aluminum oxide).

Re:Aluminium glass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910705)

The Air Force "created"...

Wasn't that a Naval contractor Scotty was working with? Having it "created" by the Air Force was a better cover story. :-)

Get the terminology straight ... (5, Informative)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910075)

It's not "Metallic Glass", it's Transparent Aluminum ...

New band names. (2, Funny)

Digestromath (1190577) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910217)

Either way, be prepared to see them as band names any minute now. Or perhaps the band name is "Metallic Glass", thier first album is "Transparent Aluminum"

Re:New band names. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910715)

Followed by their second release, Psychedelic Psillicon.

Re:New band names. (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910819)

There's a band called Air Liquide, apparently...

Re:New band names. (2, Funny)

Llamalarity (806413) | more than 5 years ago | (#23911017)

"Air Liquide" Never heard of them. Let me guess - Too much LDS in the 60s?

Re:New band names. (2, Funny)

Entropius (188861) | more than 5 years ago | (#23911151)

I think you mean too much LSD.

The LDS are those scary people with nametags that act vaguely robotic that keep knocking on your door.

Re:New band names. (2, Funny)

graphicsguy (710710) | more than 5 years ago | (#23911191)

Whoosh!

Re:New band names. (1)

ross.w (87751) | about 6 years ago | (#23911453)

Then someone else will have a similar sounding band name and they'll be forced to switch the album title and the band name on the first album. Flowers is a stupid name for a band anyhow.

So am I (5, Funny)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910095)

is a hard substance, it never quite becomes a proper solid, according to chemists and materials scientists.

So am I according to an ex-girlfriend. Thanks, I'll be here all week. Try the veal. Tip your waitstaff.

Re:So am I (0)

bondjamesbond (99019) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910213)

SLASHDOT: News for Nerds. Stuff that's funny.

Re:So am I (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910695)

So am I according to an ex-girlfriend.
Congratulations on *not* making a Star Trek reference, either!

Re:So am I (3, Funny)

RobinH (124750) | more than 5 years ago | (#23911183)

is a hard substance, it never quite becomes a proper solid, according to chemists and materials scientists.
That's what she said.

Re:So am I (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23911419)

is a hard substance, it never quite becomes a proper solid, according to chemists and materials scientists.

So am I according to an ex-girlfriend. Thanks, I'll be here all week. Try the veal. Tip your waitstaff.

So you're saying glass is flaccid?

Scotty... (5, Informative)

WolverineOfLove (1305907) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910101)

My first thought is transparent aluminum from Star Trek IV. Only to discover we're closer than I'd think... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Scotty... (0)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910681)

I think that was actually everyone's first thought :p I was like hey wait a second, then looked down at the tags and predictably enough, there was transparent 'aluminum' heh. I think that other one you link to was covered a couple of years ago on here.

Transparent Aluminum! (0, Redundant)

RealGene (1025017) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910105)

See? That guy in SF did invent it, just like Scotty said.

Re:Transparent Aluminum! (0)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910661)

Just 22 years late!

Perpetuating old myths (5, Informative)

leob (154345) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910141)

The deceptively liquid-like behavior of glass can be seen when you look at glass in the windows of an old building. The glass begins to sag and distort internally over the centuries, due to the effect of gravity.

This is crap. [wikipedia.org] There have been windows of old buildings "sagging" upwards. The old technology of making windowpanes resulted in glass of uneven thickness, and it makes sense to install it the thick side down. Sometimes the installers did not care enough.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (5, Informative)

ErkDemon (1202789) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910231)

Yeah, when you're assembling irregular-thickness glass for stained glass windows, you put the thicker (heavier) end at the bottom. It makes the glass mounting more stable, and the glass less likely to fall out.

For larger sheets, you put the thicker (stronger) end of the glass sheet at the bottom, because the bottom of the sheet has to carry the weight.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (-1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910311)

Its not crap. My 5 year old 24 inch LCD has a visible sag in the middle of about a px or so.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (1, Funny)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910567)

Its not crap. My 5 year old 24 inch LCD has a visible sag in the middle of about a px or so.

Maybe you've developped an astigmatism.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (2, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910863)

Maybe he's developed astigmatism.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910415)

And not only that, the nonsense about glass not being solid because it isn't crystalline is another oft repeated chestnut that is incorrect. There are plenty of non-crystalline solids, like wood, bone, cement, and pink and white iced animal cookies. Also pancakes. A soft solid, yes, but solid nonetheless.

You could even make a case that silicon in its pure, glassy state is already a form of "metallic glass". It certainly looks like it.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (2, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910429)

This is crap.
Yeah, I can't believe they repeated this little urban myth. The whole article takes a huge credibility hit IMHO.

Not to mention how the last half is written so poorly that it ventures into incomprehensibility-land.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (0, Troll)

brunokummel (664267) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910621)

This is crap.
Yeah, I can't believe they repeated this little urban myth. The whole article takes a huge credibility hit IMHO.

Not to mention how the last half is written so poorly that it ventures into incomprehensibility-land.


Yeah, I agree ...
Atoms, scientists, states of matter.. who believes these urbans myths...pfff!

Re:Perpetuating old myths (2, Informative)

pjhenley (98045) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910701)

As a further nit-pick, I'd note that icosahedrons are not made from pentagons. I think they mean dodecahedrons, the faces of which are pentagons:

An icosahedron is like a 3-D pentagon, and just as you cannot tile a floor with pentagons, you cannot fill 3-D space with icosahedrons, Royall explained. That is, you can't make a lattice out of pentagons.

Gel (3, Insightful)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910469)

Additionally, I am wondering why the summary compares glass to gel. Gel is a colloidal solution.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (5, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910489)

You're right, it is crap... except that the effects we observe were due to the liquidity of glass... albeit when the glass was molten :)

There is another distortion effect that myth attributes to liquid flow of glass... if you observe old architectural glass, you may note "waviness" in the glass. This is cause by how sheet glass was made.

A leader is dipped into molten glass, then raised slowly. While the glass is pretty much of uniform thickness, there is distortion caused by variations in temperature as the sheet cools.

If you're looking at old houses, it's interesting to note what kind of distortion is present in the windows -- this can tell you how the glass was made, which in turn can tell you if it's likely that the glass is original to the house. One needs knowledge of the history of window fabrication, which is often regional... but I digress.

This is yet another example of something making sense, but not being accurate. Yes, glass is technically liquid. But, the flow rate is such that the effects we attribute to the liquidity of glass would take millions and millions of years to occur at STP. Typically any effects in glass that are due to liquid flow occurred during the hardening stage.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (5, Insightful)

buddhaunderthetree (318870) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910537)

Bingo. If glass flowed at any rate the glass vases found in Egyptian tombs would have been puddles. I can't believe this stuff still gets repeated.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910947)

You should read that section of the wiki article, it's pretty interesting. I especially like the line To observe window glass flowing as liquid at room temperature we would have to wait a much longer time than the universe exists. Heh. Some glasses do flow more freely at room temperature though, apparently. Probably not so quickly that you'd see it with your eyes though.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910591)

Maybe you should A) Read the article you quote and B) be a bit more skeptical of the WEAKipedia, which often contradicts itself. From the article you just quoted:

Some glasses have a glass transition temperature close to or below room temperature. The behaviour of a material that has a glass transition close to room temperature depends upon the timescale during which the material is manipulated. If the material is hit it may break like a solid glass, however if the material is left on a table for a week it may flow like a liquid.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (4, Insightful)

Karloskar (980435) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910605)

There are lenses in very old telescopes that still function perfectly. If glass flowed at room temperature they would become distorted.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (3, Insightful)

xlation (228159) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910807)

Clearly.

      It's not uncommon for amateur telescopes to have mirrors accurate to within 1/10th of a wavelength. If glass flowed, it wouldn't take it very long to go out of figure.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (-1, Troll)

jaguth (1067484) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910897)

If that is true, then why is it that your girlfriend's wrinkly breasts sag downwards and not upwards?

But seriously, you don't need to go back hundreds of years to antiquated glass, or link to wikipedia to show your "facts". Try looking at 80 year-old-glass panes and you'll see the exact same sagging effect. Then get yourself a decent chemistry book and enlighten yourself. Thank you.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (2, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910957)

Try looking at 80 year-old-glass panes and you'll see the exact same sagging effect.
And then you could look at 80-year-old photographs and see that they looked exactly the same when they were brand new.

Glass does not sag, at least not on a historical scale. Maybe to a geologist it sags.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (1)

leob (154345) | more than 5 years ago | (#23911031)

sagging effect

Should read "manufacturing defects"

Seriously, stop deluding yourself. Glass at room temperature is a solid.

Re:Perpetuating old myths (5, Informative)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910923)

Yup. That myth has been thoroughly debunked, yet it still gets repeated.

The article is full of meaningless or incorrect statements. Like:

Royall is part of a group of scientists who think that if you wait long enough, perhaps billions of years, all glass will eventually crystallize into a true solid. In other words, glass is not in an equilibrium state, (although it appears that way to us during our limited lifetimes).
As a researcher in the field, I can assure you that this isn't a controversial statement. We all agree that glasses are not at equilibrium. We all agree that the low-energy state for glasses is to crystallize, and that (in principle), if you wait long enough they will crystallize. The questions revolve around details like "how far from equilibrium?", "what are the implications of being non-equilibrium (e.g. on phase transitions)?", "what are the kinetics and dynamics?", "how long would it ~actually~ take for a given amount of change/flow/reconstruction/etc.?"...

Also, equating "equilibrium" with "being a solid" is total nonsense. (Solids, liquids, and gases can all be at equilibrium or far from equilibrium...)

In short, don't waste your time with this ridiculously hyped review of some otherwise interesting (but not revolutionary) science.

misleading (5, Informative)

retech (1228598) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910153)

The term glass refers to the structure/lattice. Not to the substance we commonly refer to as glass.

Don't we already know this? (-1, Redundant)

Raconteur (1132577) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910193)

I certainly don't want to nit-pick, but isn't this already widely known? I've read dozens of articles about how glass panes in very old buildings have settled to the point where the top is so thin it breaks at the barest touch, while the bottom of the panes have thickened to near-translucence. Even in high school (many moons ago) we were taught that glass is technically a liquid.

Re:Don't we already know this? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910239)

Glass does not "flow". Perhaps you've read such articles, and they are assuredly all bullshit.

Materials scientists call glass an amorphous solid.

Re:Don't we already know this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910243)

no, actually we've known that to be an untrue myth for a while, what's happened here is that we've suddenly forgotten it!

Re:Don't we already know this? (5, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910277)

I certainly don't want to nit-pick, but isn't this already widely known? I've read dozens of articles about how glass panes in very old buildings have settled to the point where the top is so thin it breaks at the barest touch, while the bottom of the panes have thickened to near-translucence. Even in high school (many moons ago) we were taught that glass is technically a liquid.

It's widely known and widely taught, but it's not so. Glass does not flow at any measurable rate at room temperature. Glass at room temperature is an amorphous solid, not a liquid.

Re:Don't we already know this? (4, Informative)

Grond (15515) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910295)

Except, as noted above, that's not true at all [wikipedia.org] . You learned it in high school because you had a bad science teacher, and shame on "livescience.com" for perpetuating such nonsense. Glass is an amorphous solid, not a 'slow liquid.' It shares one or two characteristics with supercooled liquids [wikipedia.org] , but it is different in several important ways.

Re:Don't we already know this? (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910549)

but it is different in several important ways.

...

...

Still waiting for you to put us out of our misery.

Re:Don't we already know this? (5, Informative)

NobodyElse (1111905) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910981)

Thank you!! I was going to write something very much like this. Having earned two degrees in science, one a M.S. which largely dealt with material physics, I can say that all materials flow, given enough time. In fact, the term 'rheology' (the study of properties and deformation of materials) comes from the Greek verb rheo, meaning "flow." There's even a Plato quote in there: "All things flow." That being said, the ability of glass to flow is NOT what makes it special. Instead, it is that glass does not posses a crystalline structure, rather, it is an amorphous material. The chemical constituents that make up glass have not combined to form an orderly and repetetive atomic structure of regular, well defined chemical composition. This (at least in part) is what lends glass its special properties. I too had a public school teacher that tried passing on that same misconception, and yes, it is a shameful thing that it continues to get passed along, even by such "reputable" sites as livescience.

Re:Don't we already know this? (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | about 6 years ago | (#23911285)

From the page you linked to on wikipedia I found this quote:

"In the technical sense, glass is an inorganic product of fusion which has been cooled to a rigid condition without crystallising."

That is why glass is recognised among physicists as being a liquid, because it has not crystallized. Maybe you should have read the whole page before you linked to it. This is actually a contentions subject but since not enough people here have a phd in crystallography or thermodynamics we are not going to resolve it.

Re:Don't we already know this? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910333)

This may already be taught in Native American schools, but us white folk like to "discover" things that the Indians already know about.

LoL @ "many moons"...

glass (1)

alxkit (941262) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910195)

'jammed' state of matter -- somewhere between liquid and solid

i believe the expression you are looking for is `amorphous solid`

3 years already! (0, Redundant)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910235)

There seems a transparent aluminum story every couple of years

An illustration of thermodynamics (5, Insightful)

edwebdev (1304531) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910261)

One of the interesting aspects of this article is how it highlights the usual thermodynamic balance between entropy and free energy. States of matter in the equilibrium phase attempt to simultaneously maximize entropy, a measure of the statistical likelihood of a given state, and minimize the amount of energy "stored" in the given arrangement of molecules.

The most favorable condition is often a compromise between maximum entropy and minimum energy as highly ordered states, such as tetrahedral or other crystalline arrangements, often act to reduce the amount of stored energy due to minimized interatomic and/or intermolecular interactions and related factors. Pure crystals of substances will often form because the energetic "advantage" of the highly ordered crystalline state is often great enough to overcome entropic barriers.

The model that the researchers propose is interesting because the crystalline state itself introduces a degree of energetic disadvantage due to what is described as "cramming" of the individual crystalline unit cells. I wonder what models they used to form their hypothesis that the glass would eventually form a perfectly crystalline state.

Re:An illustration of thermodynamics (2, Interesting)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910345)

Hmm, I usually see that as a typical case of kinetic over thermodynamic control. The material hardens faster in the higher energy state instead of slowly rearranging to the lower minimum.
The article has a serious flaw so in claiming that glass formation helps with fatigue; the main reason that you get metal fatigues is loss of ductility. Most glasses are brittle to begin with, and even if not, the same forces that allow crystal growth leading to embrittlement are active in the glass too.

Re:An illustration of thermodynamics (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910971)

Most glasses are brittle to begin with, and even if not, the same forces that allow crystal growth leading to embrittlement are active in the glass too.
Hruh? That's not true at all, from what I recall. Glass is by definition uncrystallized... I mean, there's a bonding structure, but it's disorderly...

Am I missing something? It's been a while, but I think that still holds.

As for glass formation helping with fatigue, it's a matter of the disordered state being stable enough that it requires more energy (stress) in order to disrupt the structure enough to reform as a more brittle crystalline structure.

Then again, it's been a long time... so maybe someone with a current education in materials science can elucidate (pardon the pun).

Screw Transparent Aluminum, Transparisteel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910279)

Scientists should write about the science... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910281)

This reporter does not know what they are talking about. The comet failed due to stress risers at the corners of the windows, not because of grain boundaries. Let the materials scientists do the writing. Don't let journalists do science writing. Morons.

terrible summary of not great science (5, Informative)

anmida (1276756) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910349)

First of all, we've known about metallic glasses for years. There's a melt-spinner in the basement of my matsci building that we use to make metallic glasses. Their properties have been fairly well-studied.

Second of all, I don't really like the experiment that these people conducted. They simulated atoms during solidification, but they used microspheres within ANOTHER medium. With glasses, during there is no matrix material within which other molecules are moving. I find their model and extrapolation to be questionable. We are still trying to thermodynamically understand the glass transition and the solid amorphous state compared to the solid crystalline state.

Re:terrible summary of not great science (2, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910675)

What's so hard to understand?

Quantum physics tells us that electrons prefer certain geometric arrangements about a nucleus.

Due to this, atoms prefer certain geometric arrangements that take advantage of this atomic-orbital energy function. If this allows for a repeating pattern, and the mechanical noise in the system is high enough to disrupt any non-optimal bonds, a repeating pattern will most likely form.

But if the gross arrangement of several atoms is stable to thermodynamic perturbation even though some bonds are non-optimally aligned, the whole structure will be maintained. Cooling a substance faster than it can rearrange itself into a lattice structure would be one way to leave it in this condition.

Meaning that amorphous glasses are simply substances that crystallize without forming a lattice geometry.

Yawnnnnnn (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910353)

While I find this thoroughly intriguing, who here really thinks we have a firm grasp of knowledge of the totality that is chemistry?

This just in, we know jack shit when it comes to what is really possible with molecular compounds and states of matter...

/p.s. this will get modded -1 Troll

Re:Yawnnnnnn (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910653)

/p.s. this will get modded -1 Troll
Unlikely since most moderators DO NOT browse at -1. Disappointing, very disappointing.

STOP BEING STUPID, PLEASE (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910395)

The stupidity of slashdot appears to be increasing at a geometric rate.

tap..tap..tap.. is this thing on?? (2, Funny)

arbies (1222718) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910411)

In my very best Canadian/pseudo-Scottish accent, "Hello computer..."

Re:tap..tap..tap.. is this thing on?? (2, Funny)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910589)

A keyboard? How quaint.

Its been around for a while (2, Interesting)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910421)

Look at the plate on the front of those those golf club drivers that they won't let you use, or even this patent:
http://www.google.com/patents?id=Kq4yAAAAEBAJ&dq=4256039 [google.com] Filing date: Jan 2, 1979


Its also been used in large transformers for years. The "technology advance" here worth noting is in being able to produce it while casting/moulding objects that are not thin and flat. It had been done as sheets for years, but casting a part that is something like 7 times the strength of titanium is much more useful. Unfortunately, the problem to solve is its brittleness. Things that shatter are much less useful.

BMG (5, Interesting)

Composite_Armor (1203112) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910431)

I am a materials engineer at the University of British Columbia in Canada. I recently did a technical presentation on 'Bulk Metallic Alloys' which seems to be the category of materials this 'glass' falls into. BMG's are very exiting materials, their main advantage over traditional alloys is their ability to store energy in elastic deformation. Esentially, they are the worlds best spring material. However; Be careful with your application in using these materials, they may have properties of strong alloys, but they have failure characteristics simmilar to ceramics. Usually they can fail with little to no warning, and catastrophically at that. Crack formation cannot be tolerated. I would not be comfortable with using this material for plane wings. Possibly the landing gear. This material has its niche in underplating for bodyarmor. Send the bullets back. For more information, a good website is http://www.liquidmetal.com/ [liquidmetal.com]

Re:BMG (1)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910669)

BMG's are very exiting materials

They leave with extra flourish?

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Re:BMG (1)

mmyrfield (1157811) | about 6 years ago | (#23911311)

Go MMAT! (or has the abbreviation changed again?)

While you may be comfortable with using such materials for landing gear, the problems definitely lie in the failure modes as you pointed out. We have lots of materials that are stronger than titanium, but their stress/strain graphs tend to look like a vertical cliff at the break end. That's why we reinforce concrete with steel re-bar - not only does it make the resulting structure stronger, but when the concrete fails the whole structure doesn't come crashing to the ground.

In most engineering disciplines (if not all), things are not designed simply to not break - that would be unrealistic. Instead, they are designed to fail gracefully; things are designed so that it is easy to tell through maintenance checks when parts need to be replaced and so that when something does break, the damage and danger is minimized.

Re:BMG (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | about 6 years ago | (#23911339)

Fiberglass and carbon composites also have low tolerance for cracks and sudden failure modes, and they enjoy great success in airplane wings.

Let's Make Chips! (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910435)

Silicon [wikipedia.org] is a metalloid [wikipedia.org] , which has some properties of a metal (or some degree of those properties), and some properties that nonmetals have instead. That's why it can be made into a semiconductor.

That isn't news. This is the big story of 20th Century technology. Exploiting the glass properties of this metalloid is the real news.

Is this "Digg" or Slashdot? (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910447)

wow, just confusing... glass slow liquid... just confusing...

Thanks, No-Child-Left-Behind!! LOLz

Transparent Aluminum... (3, Informative)

topham (32406) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910575)


Transparent Aluminum isn't fiction and never was.
Al(2)O(3) is sapphire. Personally I wear a watch made of Titanium and Sapphire.

Re:Transparent Aluminum... (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910955)

Supposedly transparent aluminum is highly scratch resistant. I'd like to see it used in PDA, cellphone, and Gameboy screens.

Re:Transparent Aluminum... (2, Interesting)

dhovis (303725) | about 6 years ago | (#23911269)

Supposedly transparent aluminum is highly scratch resistant. I'd like to see it used in PDA, cellphone, and Gameboy screens.

Sure, if you don't mind paying thousands of dollars for your PDA, cellphone or Gameboy. Sapphire (not transparent aluminum, see above rant) is much more expensive to produce than ordinary (silica) glass. That is why it gets used in high end watches (glass is hard to scratch, but sapphire is even harder still). The other major use is in supermarket barcode scanners. In that application, glass would get scratched up way too quickly by cans, glass bottles, etc. So they use sapphire plates on top of glass because they require little to no maintenance.

Re:Transparent Aluminum... (5, Informative)

dhovis (303725) | more than 5 years ago | (#23911203)

Please, no.

Single crystals of alumina (Al2O3) are transparent. They are known as sapphire if clear or blue. With slight chromium impurities, they are known as ruby. They are a ceramic, not a metal. There are three oxygen atoms for every two aluminum atoms, which makes it 60%at oxygen. It is not aluminum. It would make more sense to say your watch is made of oxygen, but not by much.

Just saying "aluminum" implies the metallic structure, which will never be transparent despite the fervent hopes of many a Star Trek fan. The inherent availability of free electrons in the conduction band of metallic aluminum will ensure that is will not be transparent in any thickness greater than a few hundred nanometers. Truly transparent, metallic aluminum would be a breakthrough on par with a working transporter.

IAAPhDMS (I Am A PhD in Materials Science), and this has been your Pedantic Slashdot Rant from a Expert(TM) for today.

Back on topic. These metallic glasses (Vitraloy and the like) have been around for a decade now and have very interesting properties. They are not, however, transparent. Not even a little bit.

TFA is sensationalistic (5, Informative)

breem42 (664497) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910611)

Aside from repeating the old myth that glass can actually sag over hundreds of years, the article says very little. Perhaps a bad summary.

The jist of linked the story is:

A group of scientists in Bristol, Canberra and Tokyo used a material (doesn't say what) analogous to glass, not glass. This material is easier to study. Using this material they claim they were able to understand better what happens on the atomic level as it solidifies, and why it never really becomes a crystal. Nowhere in the article does it explain why this will lead to "metallic glass"

Here [nature.com] is an abstract for the original article. Pretty complex wording, but nothing about metallic glass.

Some more to add (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 6 years ago | (#23911319)

Metallic glass is interesting but was probably predates most people reading this. I got a free sample of an iron based metallic glass that was manufactured on an industrial scale in 1986. I think the name of the manufacturer was "Allied Metals" and the material was intended for transformer cores. To make such stuff you need cooling rates of several hundred degrees per second. That sounds difficult unless you consider something like pouring molten metal onto a water cooled spinning copper cylinder to make a thin foil. The foil can then be put down in layers and squashed flat to make the transformer core.

Conventional silica glass will flow with enough time and temperature; however the temperature you'd need before anything is noticable in a few hundred years is still a few hundred degrees. Lead is a different story due to the lower melting point and lead church organ pipes have been observed to change shape over hundreds of years. The mechanism is refered to as "creep", and happens under the right conditions whether you have a crystalline structure or a disordered structure like a glass.

In related news ... (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910617)

... residents of glass houses may now throw stones.

Through-glass antennas? (1)

Jadware (1081293) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910659)

Through-glass antennas are on millions of cars. Don't they exploit this kind of property?

Jammed State... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23910853)

The more important thing here is that they found, through their simulation, that glass is in the jammed state. The relationship between jammed granular materials and glasses is, at this time, uncertain, and is very closely related to research that I am currently performing in the local Physics Dept.

Tiger Woods would live this. (1)

phoenix0783 (965193) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910855)

Back in college I knew a prof who made a golf club driver out of metallic glass and it could hit a ball further than a titanium driver or whatever they use now.

Re:Tiger Woods would live this. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23911395)

The only reason it can is because all metal drivers have to conform to a specific standard set by the Golfing industry in order to be qualified for use in tournaments.

He probably made it without regards to this standard, so obviously yes it probably did hit it farther.

they need a geologist on the research team (2, Insightful)

phrostie (121428) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910913)

"Royall is part of a group of scientists who think that if you wait long enough, perhaps billions of years, all glass will eventually crystallize into a true solid."

tell me a decent geologist cant locate some billion year old glass from a meteor impact, a volcanic eruption or something.
if you can find a sample you should be able to test this.

Mmmm (1)

denmarkw00t (892627) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910937)

I was reading the article...

For example, the world's first jetliner, the British built De Havilland Comet, fell out of the sky due to metal failure. When metals are be made to cool with...

...and now I'm thinkin' Arby's

This is new? (0, Redundant)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910967)

I thought we already had transparent aluminum? Hell, even Scotty used it to save the future way back when!

Old Window Melting Myth (0, Redundant)

SirusTV (1001138) | more than 5 years ago | (#23910987)

Warning that article contains anti-science! Room temperature glass has a viscosity of 10^22 poise. The viscosity of a liquid controls how fast it flows under gravity. (SAE 30 motor oil has a viscosity of about 1 poise, water is 0.01 poise.) The viscosity of glass is so high that you could wait the entire age of the universe and see no measurable thickening of the glass under earth gravity. Don't believe the "Old Window" myth! Just because glass is a liquid doesn't mean all of our windows will melt out in only a few hundred/thousand/million/billion years

Icosahedron has triangular faces (2, Informative)

judecn (1179197) | about 6 years ago | (#23911361)

From TFA:

An icosahedron is like a 3-D pentagon, and just as you cannot tile a floor with pentagons, you cannot fill 3-D space with icosahedrons, Royall explained. That is, you can't make a lattice out of pentagons.

An icosahedron has triangular faces. You were thinking of a dodecahedron, perhaps, which has pentagonal faces? The icosahedron's only relation to anything pentagonal (that I'm aware of) is that its dual polyhedron happens to be a dodecahedron.

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