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Transparent Aluminum Is Here

Hemos posted about 10 years ago | from the like-blue-LEDs dept.

625

Alien54 writes "Scientists in the US have developed a novel technique to make bulk quantities of glass from alumina for the first time. (link includes a picture of samples) Anatoly Rosenflanz and colleagues at 3M in Minnesota used a "flame-spray" technique to alloy alumina (aluminium oxide) with rare-earth metal oxides to produce strong glass with good optical properties. The method avoids many of the problems encountered in conventional glass forming and could, say the team, be extended to other oxides (see also: A Rosenflanz et al. 2004 Nature 430 761). Scotty would be pleased."

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Scotty would be pleased. (5, Funny)

inertia@yahoo.com (156602) | about 10 years ago | (#10044110)

Yes. It seems that he didn't pollute the time-line after all.

Re:Scotty would be pleased. (5, Funny)

zackeller (653801) | about 10 years ago | (#10044142)

Of course he did. It just took 28 years for them to figure out the formula.

Re:Scotty would be pleased. (5, Funny)

essreenim (647659) | about 10 years ago | (#10044320)

Computer. Hello computer.
Oh, a keyboard, how quaint.

!

Re:Scotty would be pleased. (5, Funny)

Silburn_Luke (672738) | about 10 years ago | (#10044268)

Are you kidding? Where do you think these bozos got the idea from in the first place?

I'll lay odds a burly guy with a dodgy scottish brogue was around their head office trying to use a mouse as a dictaphone not too long ago....

Regards
Luke

Re:Scotty would be pleased. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044285)

Actually, it was transparent tin, not aluminum.

Re:Scotty would be pleased. (5, Funny)

Picass0 (147474) | about 10 years ago | (#10044313)

Double Dumb-ass on you!

Re:Scotty would be pleased. (5, Funny)

fitten (521191) | about 10 years ago | (#10044334)

Are you sure this isn't a time for a colorful metaphor?

Re:Scotty would be pleased. (4, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#10044349)

Excuse me! Can you direct me to d'he nearest nuclear wessel in Alameda?

(The amusing part about that statement is that the Russian language has no 'W' sound!)

Re:Scotty would be pleased. (5, Interesting)

Mick Ohrberg (744441) | about 10 years ago | (#10044350)

Just goes to show how many ideas mentioned in StarTrek actually come about. I guess we still have to work on that warp drive, dilithium crystal regeneration and photon torpedoes...and replicators. "Earl Gray. Hot."

Re:Scotty would be pleased. (1)

screwballicus (313964) | about 10 years ago | (#10044387)

Nah, it was his doing. You just won't hear about it. And he didn't have trouble with the keyboard, either. It was a misinterpretation: he was later understood to have remarked,

"A Windows Key. How quaint!"

woohho (5, Funny)

obli (650741) | about 10 years ago | (#10044124)

The whales will have a safe journey home!

Re:woohho (5, Insightful)

inertia@yahoo.com (156602) | about 10 years ago | (#10044158)

What I don't get is, why did they need it to be transparent for the journey home?

Re:woohho (5, Insightful)

jayhawk88 (160512) | about 10 years ago | (#10044199)

Because otherwise all that footage taken at Sea World would have been for nothing!

Re:woohho (4, Funny)

dave1791 (315728) | about 10 years ago | (#10044211)

Do you know what happens to people who ask such questions?

Re:woohho (5, Informative)

basics (702099) | about 10 years ago | (#10044231)

If I remember correctly, they did not need the clear aluminum but they did need something to store the whale in. Since they did not have any money they traded the formula for clear aluminum for the whale tank.

He didn't use Transparent Aluminum for the tank. (2, Informative)

AzrealAO (520019) | about 10 years ago | (#10044283)

He traded the formula of Transparent Aluminum for sufficiently strong plexiglass for the tank.

You are such a geek... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044355)

...only a die-hard trekkie would bother to point that out.

Re:woohho (1)

JamesKPolk (13313) | about 10 years ago | (#10044237)

Transparency wasn't the attribute he asked for. The strength to hold all that water was.

Re:woohho (5, Interesting)

GoodNicsTken (688415) | about 10 years ago | (#10044275)

You make that joke, but I started thinking about my reef tank as soon as I read this article. When you go over 36" tall you have to use 5/8-3/4 inch low iron (so your fish and corals are not green) glass. If this is really that much stronger, larget tanks could be made cheaper, becuase the glass could be thinner. I wonder what the optical and strength properties really are? Anyone have more information on the testing?

Transparent aluminum foil (5, Funny)

SammysIsland (705274) | about 10 years ago | (#10044129)

Now I can watch as the food in the fridge turns green... Ye-hah!

Re:Transparent aluminum foil (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044299)

I was thinking more about transparent airplanes - no need for dangerous windows & people will get a decent view

Re:Transparent aluminum foil (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | about 10 years ago | (#10044337)

Now I can watch as the food in the fridge turns green

More importantly, I can wear my improved tinfoil hat in public without getting weird looks.

Re:Transparent aluminum foil (5, Funny)

NoData (9132) | about 10 years ago | (#10044393)

Tinfoill hat are made of tin.
Like, duh!

Paranoid kook n00b :)

Re:Transparent aluminum foil (1)

swordboy (472941) | about 10 years ago | (#10044395)

Food?!?

I want a cylinder head for my car made out of this stuff...

now we can finally save the whales (-1, Redundant)

darthcamaro (735685) | about 10 years ago | (#10044131)

guess it's high time then that we swipe a klingon bird of prey then and save the whales..before they come back to destroy us !!

Re:now we can finally save the whales (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044151)

The first thing that came to my mind as well...

Article text, for the slashdotted (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044139)

Glass breakthrough
11 August 2004

Scientists in the US have developed a novel technique to make bulk quantities of glass from alumina for the first time. Anatoly Rosenflanz and colleagues at 3M in Minnesota used a "flame-spray" technique to alloy alumina (aluminium oxide) with rare-earth metal oxides to produce strong glass with good optical properties. The method avoids many of the problems encountered in conventional glass forming and could, say the team, be extended to other oxides (A Rosenflanz et al. 2004 Nature 430 761).

Glass is formed when a molten material is cooled so quickly that its constituent atoms do not have time to align themselves into an ordered lattice. However, it is difficult to make glasses from most materials because they need to be cooled -- or quenched -- at rates of up to 10 million degrees per second.

Silica is widely used in glass-making because the quenching rates are much lower, but researchers would like to make glass from alumina as well because of its superior mechanical and optical properties. Alumina can form glass if it is alloyed with calcium or rare-earth oxides, but the required quenching rate can be as high as 1000 degrees per second, which makes it difficult to produce bulk quantities.

Rosenflanz and colleagues started by mixing around 80 mole % of powdered alumina with various rare-earth oxide powders -- including lanthanum, gadolinium and yttrium oxides. Next, they fed the powders into a high-temperature hydrogen-oxygen flame to produce molten particles that were then quenched in water. The resulting glass beads, which were less than 140 microns across, were then heat-treated -- or sintered -- at around 1000C. This produced bulk glass samples in which nanocrystalline alumina-rich phases were dispersed throughout a glassy matrix. The new method avoids the need to apply pressures of 1 gigapascal or more, as is required in existing techniques.

Click to enlarge
Aluminate glasses

The 3M scientists characterised the glasses using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and thermal analysis, and tested the strength of the materials with hardness and fracture toughness tests. They found that their samples were much harder than conventional silica-based glasses and were almost as hard as pure polycrystalline alumina.

Moreover, over 95% of the glasses were transparent (see figure) and had attractive optical properties. For example, fully crystallized alumina-rare earth oxide ceramics showed high refractive indices if the grains were kept below a certain size.

Author
Belle Dumé is Science Writer at PhysicsWeb

Re:Article text, for the slashdotted (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044305)

Attention Americans!

Learn to spell correctly -- it is Aluminium. Please fix... we'll get onto sulphur and the -our travesty later.

Future echoes (3, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | about 10 years ago | (#10044145)


I am beginning to suspect that the whole idea of sci-fi is in fact a future society time-travelling back every now and then to make a new 'Star Trek' film to nudge society onto a slightly different path :-)

The number of Star-Trek-driven ideas that have become reality is astounding -
  • phasers. We have wireless tasers that use a laser to ionise the air then an electric current jumps towards the victim from a battery. The battery is currently an issue)
  • communicators - hell mobile phones are far better than communicators
  • voice recognition - lots available these days
  • transporters - well we've done with an entangled photon. One down, seventeen quadrillion to go. Hey, it's a start!
  • now, transparent aluminium.. someone's having a laugh!


Ok, we're missing the big one, warp drive, but apparently we have to have a war that more or less wipes out humanity first, so I'll be happy to give it a miss in my lifetime...

Oh yeah, FOR [insert deity]'s SAKE, STOP THE WHALING!!!

Simon

Re:Future echoes (4, Funny)

abb3w (696381) | about 10 years ago | (#10044198)

Don't forget the Mark I Tricorder [stim.com] .

Re:Future echoes (1)

Nos. (179609) | about 10 years ago | (#10044208)

I can agree with everything except the communication. No way are mobile phones better than the communicators. Look, they could always use their communicators (barring some interference) even though the Enterprise was rarely in a geosynchronous orbit. The cut seens rarely showed the enterprise orbiting at even close to a geosynchronous orbit. We need cell towers, and even if yo go to Sat phones, we still require geosynchronous satellites to bounce our calls off of.

Re:Future echoes (1)

Panaflex (13191) | about 10 years ago | (#10044329)

THe big problem with most communications isn't the distance these days.. it's the fact that there's lots of stuff in the way. We've had commercial hand-held space communications for at least 10 years..

Pan

Re:Future echoes (2, Interesting)

DrCash (800431) | about 10 years ago | (#10044261)

communicators - hell mobile phones are far better than communicators

Satellite phones are pretty darn close to Captain Kirk's communicator (although they're a bit pricey - I guess we still need to eliminate money before getting to the 23rd century.

A HypoSpray for drug delivery without a needle has already been developed and used clinically during the late 1990s.

It is a bit unusual that flat panel computer display technology did not hit the Star Trek universe until the late Next Generation series - Captain Kirk's Enterprise was equipped with CRTs and flashing and buzzing lights. But Captain Archer's Enterprise has LCD flat panels up the wazzoo,... ;-)

Communicator (1)

TibbonZero (571809) | about 10 years ago | (#10044278)

Yea, but I want the cool thing to wear on my shirt.... hey that's a good idea for a cellphone company :)

Re:Communicator (3, Interesting)

jaredmauch (633928) | about 10 years ago | (#10044404)

I can't remember where i read about it, but it must've been here.. there are actually IP Phones made by one company that are wearable. Their primary market is hospitals. Ah yes, a quick google found me the product link [cerner.com] .

Re:Future echoes (1)

Jugalator (259273) | about 10 years ago | (#10044293)

We have wireless tasers that use a laser to ionise the air then an electric current jumps towards the victim from a battery.

I guess this [reviewjournal.com] is one of those in action.

But I'm not jumping in joy until we have portable tesla coils [umich.edu] . Mwahaha! :-)

Just imagine all the uses...

Re:Future echoes (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#10044322)

Ok, we're missing the big one, warp drive,

Whatch'you talkin' 'bout foo' [wikipedia.org] ?

Ok, so we have no idea where we're going to get the energy from. But at the moment, it's looking more realistic than Wormholes.

Re:Future echoes (1)

Togan (807572) | about 10 years ago | (#10044325)

actually, communicators are more like radio communication ... you don't dial any number ...

and beaming will probably remain with photons (they didn't actually beam a photon, they just transmitted it's information), beaming matter is not possible

Re:Future echoes (3, Interesting)

dave1791 (315728) | about 10 years ago | (#10044332)

"Ok, we're missing the big one, warp drive,"

OK, I am not sure how Star Trek warp drives are supposed to work, but I remember a RPC circa 1990 called Traveller 2300 had something called "stutterwarp". The idea was this, take a starship and do the transporter trick to jump a few meters, or a couple of kilometers. Now do this at a few Mhz and you have near lightspeed with very little velocity.

1 kilometer is less than half a light year (1)

BoxedFlame (231097) | about 10 years ago | (#10044340)

The communicators in star trek go over subspace and can carry instantanious signals over huge distances, right through planets and stars. A mobile phone has a range of something like a kilometer and is easily blocked by something as trivial as a mountain.

Re:Future echoes (1)

Jugalator (259273) | about 10 years ago | (#10044351)

Doh! You missed one!

The -- dum-di-dum -- intelligent computers!
You know, those installed in all spaceships.

Well, we have those chatterbots [elbot.com] .

I guess you could call that a start too. :-)

Re:Future echoes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044353)

medical hypospray, too. no needles, just air!

Silly submitter (5, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | about 10 years ago | (#10044146)

who doesn't know the difference between Alumina [wikipedia.org] and Aluminum [wikipedia.org] .

What next, suggesting people use the silicon [wikipedia.org] in their computers as a breast implant [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Silly submitter (0)

Epistax (544591) | about 10 years ago | (#10044204)

Hey, many nerds keep their silicon and silicone quite close.

Re:Silly submitter (2, Funny)

criordan (733016) | about 10 years ago | (#10044210)

What next, suggesting people use the silicon in their computers as a breast implant?

You mean like Seven of Nine?

Submitter - Not Silly (3, Insightful)

tonywestonuk (261622) | about 10 years ago | (#10044230)

Isn't Aluminum a major constituant part of Alumina? (along with Oxygen)... Seams to me that that makes the term 'Transparant Aluminum' valid.

Re:Submitter - Not Silly (4, Informative)

gowen (141411) | about 10 years ago | (#10044280)

Well, alumina has almost none of the same properties as aluminium (since you're from the UK too, I'll spell that word correctly from now on). It's extremely tough (used in drilling bits), non-conductive and non-reactive. One would expect something described as "Transparent Aluminium" to behave a bit like Aluminium. Alumina doesn't.

Re:Submitter - Not Silly (4, Informative)

sploo22 (748838) | about 10 years ago | (#10044310)

Pure aluminum is a metal. Aluminum oxide is not - it's like the difference between hydrogen and water.

As I understand it, pure metals can't be transparent because light is an electromagnetic wave which gets "short-circuited" by conductive materials. Presumably the oxides disrupt this conductivity. And anyway, the alumina is combined with other oxides before being used to form glass.

Re:Submitter - Not Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044365)

Isn't Aluminum a major constituant part of Alumina? (along with Oxygen)... Seams to me that that makes the term 'Transparant Aluminum' valid.

Well in that case I'll get started on 'Transparent Oxygen' right away and it won't matter! :D

Re:Submitter - Not Silly (4, Informative)

rco3 (198978) | about 10 years ago | (#10044373)

No, it makes the term "transparent alumina" valid. The term 'Aluminum' refers to an element, whereas alumina refers to a compound of aluminum. If you refer to the properties of aluminum (or aluminium, if it makes this easier for you), you are (or at least will be understood by others to be) referring to the properties of a quantity of essentially pure aluminum, which is transparent under no condition.

Therefore, the term "transparent aluminum" is incorrect. Sorry.

Re:Submitter - Not Silly (4, Funny)

PatrickThomson (712694) | about 10 years ago | (#10044424)

Yeah, and that reminds me, there's this horrific new danger-chemical being given to children, it's made from hydrogen, the most flammable gas in existence, and oxygen, the pure essense of burning, I mean the safety implications are enormous! stop DHMO now!

Why not link to... (4, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 10 years ago | (#10044296)

Why not link to the article on transparent alumina [wikipedia.org] as well? Though it needs a slight update, mind you.

Transparent alumuinum is here... (3, Funny)

hal2814 (725639) | about 10 years ago | (#10044147)

...but I still can't do something primitive like use my mouse to talk to the computer.

Re:Transparent alumuinum is here... (3, Funny)

salzbrot (314893) | about 10 years ago | (#10044248)

Well you have to take LDS first, than it might work...



Get a free iPod [freeipods.com] . Here is how it works [wired.com] .

Re:Transparent alumuinum is here... (3, Funny)

nosaj72 (615582) | about 10 years ago | (#10044422)

Are you saying only Mormons get to talk to their computer?

Begin Star Trek comments in.... (4, Funny)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 10 years ago | (#10044156)

Oh who am I kidding, there are already a bunch of them by now...

well then there are rubies and stuff (5, Informative)

LucidBeast (601749) | about 10 years ago | (#10044160)

Aren't many jewels aluminum compounds?
google search of rubies and aluminum:
http://pearl1.lanl.gov/periodic/element s/13.html

I graduated! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044161)

I just passed my exam, I GRADUATED! woohoow!

Re:I graduated! (0, Offtopic)

hanssprudel (323035) | about 10 years ago | (#10044212)

That's great!

But in August? Not so much...

It's not aluminum, it's alumina. (4, Informative)

jolyonr (560227) | about 10 years ago | (#10044168)

Alumina (aluminium oxide) is not the same as aluminium, that's like saying that water ice(hydrogen oxide) is 'Transparent Hydrogen'.

Alumina or corundum [mindat.org] as the natural material is known, is found in nature as a clear mineral - different colour variations give you Ruby and Sapphire.

Jolyon

Re:It's not aluminum, it's alumina. (1)

gowen (141411) | about 10 years ago | (#10044200)

Transparent Hydrogen: now there's a breakthrough we could all benefit from...

Re:It's not aluminum, it's alumina. (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | about 10 years ago | (#10044203)

Isn't hydrogen already transparent?

Re:It's not aluminum, it's alumina. (1)

jolyonr (560227) | about 10 years ago | (#10044223)

Not when it's a solid. That's why this magical 'Transparent Hydrogen' stuff I speak about is so important!

Re:It's not aluminum, it's alumina. (2, Informative)

adavies42 (746183) | about 10 years ago | (#10044297)

So basically, alumina glass is to corundum as silica glass is to quartz?

Re:It's not aluminum, it's alumina. (4, Funny)

Ba3r (720309) | about 10 years ago | (#10044318)

woah! transparent hydrogen! Maybe they can make superstrong containers to transport toxic dihydrogen oxide.

I mean, after the tiger-repelling rock, I thought i learned not to misunderestimate science!

in other news... (2, Funny)

DrCash (800431) | about 10 years ago | (#10044171)

And in a seemingly unrelated story released today in the year 2367, humpback whales are being re-released in the wild after over 350 years of extinction. Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk saved the planet from the clutches of an unknown alien probe by travelling back in time to retrieve two humpback whales to repopulate the species!

And the rest of the story,... is available on DVD!

Re:in other news... (1)

sploo22 (748838) | about 10 years ago | (#10044381)

Actually it was 2286. 2367 was the fourth season of ST:TNG. [starfleetlibrary.com]

Re:in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044406)

Ack, should have hit preview. Oh well.

yes, but... (3, Funny)

dyfet (154716) | about 10 years ago | (#10044388)

Is it region coded? In 2367 can one finally get a region free dvd?! And, finally, what everyone wants to know is, did the copyright on mickey finally expire?!

glassish properties (3, Interesting)

basics (702099) | about 10 years ago | (#10044176)

As glass itself is technically not a solid but a slow-moving liquid would glass not made from silica have the same general properites as "normal" glass?

I generally think of glass as being very inert for example. Anyone know if this would be the case if the glass was composed of differant substances?

(chemistry maybe?)

Re:glassish properties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044271)

would glass not made from silica have the same general properites as "normal" glass?

Yes.

Re:glassish properties (5, Informative)

nagora (177841) | about 10 years ago | (#10044304)

glass itself is technically not a solid but a slow-moving liquid

A common misconception caused by the old "spun" method of making glass which makes sheets which are thicker at the bottom than the top. People have often assumed that old glass has "flowed" into that shape. It hasn't: it was made that way. Glass does not in fact flow, not even slowly.

Search on Google for "glass flow" for lots and lots of stuff about this.

TWW

Not Liquid (5, Informative)

Benm78 (646948) | about 10 years ago | (#10044324)

There is some debate, the scientific consensus at the moment is that (ordinary) glass is NOT a liquid. Wikipedia has some interesting background [wikipedia.org] info on this discussion.

In general, the composition of glass makes a huge different in properties such as hardness, inertness, transparancy and color. In ordinary glass, CaO is added to lower solubility in water and various other solvents.

Re:Not Liquid (1)

djfray (803421) | about 10 years ago | (#10044429)

That link does not quote or link to any scientists, and does not say that glass is not a liquid, merely that glass blowers believe that glass does not flow at room temperature.

Very, very, very slow (4, Informative)

dexter riley (556126) | about 10 years ago | (#10044360)

Glass may flow, but it does so very very very slowly. As in "age of the entire universe" [sciencenews.org] slowly.

Re:glassish properties (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 10 years ago | (#10044382)

As glass itself is technically not a solid but a slow-moving liquid...

Furrfu! [glassnotes.com]

(Or have I just been trolled?)

All I Can Think Of... (-1, Redundant)

Wingie (554272) | about 10 years ago | (#10044187)

When I first read the headline, all I could think of is "HOLY CRAP! Imagine the case mods you can make with that!!!"

Feeling stupid (1)

alta (1263) | about 10 years ago | (#10044195)

Ok, I have a college degree, but not in science. After reading the article, my head's swiming in gigapascals and moles. Here's my idiot's summary: They mix it with some stuff, get it really hot, and cool it down really fast (in water), but not as fast as some other stuff, and you can kinda see through it, but looking at the pics, not very well. I was feeling pretty stupid until I noticed this was on physicsweb.com. That made me feel better. At least I understand the stuff posted on devshed and onlamp...

Re:Feeling stupid (1)

mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) | about 10 years ago | (#10044342)

A mol is like 6.023 * 10^23 atoms of a substance and is the basis of measure for elements and elemental compounds. IE...the molar mass of water is 18g.

Gigapascals - One billion Pascals....Pascal = What?

Yes but... (2, Funny)

condour75 (452029) | about 10 years ago | (#10044202)

We're so far behind on launching ubermenchen into deep space on the Botany Bay. And where's Voyager VII?

Bullet Proof Glass ? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044226)

With that technology, we can create Alumina Bullet Proof Glass... That's great.

How about building with alumina windows ? Beter Resistance to fire and EarthQuake ?

It's a good discovery. Realy.

Capt Kirk (0, Redundant)

Dharkfiber (555328) | about 10 years ago | (#10044227)

Scotty: How do we know he didn't event the damn stuff?

science inspiring sci-fi inspiring science... (5, Interesting)

Ubergrendle (531719) | about 10 years ago | (#10044235)

One of the great things about sci-fi as a thematic backdrop (be it literature or movies/tv) is that it alone of all the genres has the possibility of inspiring a tangible effect upon the real world.

I remember an interview with James Doohan where he said his greatest pride that came from his career was that he inspired other people to pursue careers where they could make a difference to the world. How many engineers became engineers or went into sciences because of Star Trek?

I'm familiar with the Arthur C Clarke suggesting satellites; I doubt a similar cause/effect with Star Trek IV happened here. However, the similarities are cool, and at least with this genre there is the POSSIBILITY of changing the world for the better.

PS Fortunately such transitions from sci-fi fantasy to real world are few and far between. 90%+ of tv SF and pulp SF is dreck, and I myself and not looking forward to a Brave New World...

and Bones and Scotty can look for a whale tank (2, Funny)

evil-osm (203438) | about 10 years ago | (#10044251)

.. oh... joy.

10 bucks to the first company.... (2, Funny)

d3ity (800597) | about 10 years ago | (#10044254)

10 bucks goes to the first company/person to make me a case out of this stuff.

Re:10 bucks to the first company.... (1)

zerOnIne (128186) | about 10 years ago | (#10044346)

sure, i'll make you a case out of this. but for a case of solid sapphire, it'll cost you more than $10.

Dammit, i wanted to RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044265)

Only 20 comments and the server is toast...anyone have a mirror?

Re:Dammit, i wanted to RTFA (2, Funny)

gwizah (236406) | about 10 years ago | (#10044302)

Scotty (speaking to server): Computer...Hello Computer!

Capt. Kirk: Scotty...We need more usr req's!

McCoy: It's dead Jim.

Neat (1, Offtopic)

jesuspower (806201) | about 10 years ago | (#10044266)

Thats really neat. I geuss many inventors get ideas from Sci-Fi and try to work out solutions like that. Kinda cool. http://jesuspower.spymac.net

The missing ingredient for an invisible plane! (2, Interesting)

kamelkev (114875) | about 10 years ago | (#10044284)

Wonder woman would be all over this... this is the missing ingredient for the ever elusive "invisible plane".

Seriously though, this has crazy applications. Imagine all the things you could make with this stuff:

Windshields that bend instead of crack, providing protection during an accident

Pairs of glasses that won't break

No more broken windows because the kid down the street hits a baseball at your house.

There seem to be virtually limitless applications, assuming the optical properties are similar to that of glass, which the article alludes to.

Re:The missing ingredient for an invisible plane! (3, Informative)

dykofone (787059) | about 10 years ago | (#10044416)

It has similar optical properties, but probably not similar mechanical properties. It's Alumina first off, which is a ceramic I believe, but thinking of the way it's formed, you can see where it would have similar properties to current glass.

Take a metal, and cool it off very rapidly, and it becomes very hard but also very brittle. Cool if off fast enough apparantly, before the atoms have a chance to properly align themselves, and it becomes transparent, which is what happens with Silica to make glass. They just found a way to cool off Alumina fast enough. Problem is, what gives metal its characteristics are the very nice, orderly arrangement of atoms bonded in sheets, so that it can remain strong while also bending before breaking.

I don't think this is anything other than a cool way to make glass out of something else, perhaps something stronger, but nowhere near as cool as a material resulting in clear body panels on a car, or clear coke cans.

Computer mods? (4, Insightful)

CodeMaster (28069) | about 10 years ago | (#10044306)

Where are all the crazy modders?

- Transparent aluminum case
- Transparent hard drives
- Transparent power supplies
All without voiding your warranty ;-)

And for military uses - the sky is the limit (really - think about it...)

Get a free ipod [freeipods.com] [it really works - my buddy just got his... should have believed it earlier ;-( ]

Transparent ALUMINA (4, Informative)

caffeineboy (44704) | about 10 years ago | (#10044314)

Is nothing new - it's called corundum [about.com] or as you more probably know it, sapphire (or ruby when it is red).

And hard is only one part of the story. Glass is hard, yet I wouldn't want to make structural elements of an aircraft from large hunks of glass... Aluminum is light and Tough (high energy to break). It is also ductile (deforms before breaking) something that no ceramic is...

So, while this is cool, and will probably be used for super scratch proof layers on spyplane camera transparencies or something like that where they can afford something like this, it isn't what you think it is.

As an aside, translucent alumina is used in something you see everyday - sodium vapor lamps use alumina to encapsulate the sodium metal that they use as their filament.

whaling (0, Offtopic)

blackomegax (807080) | about 10 years ago | (#10044362)

SAVE THE WHALES JIM!

3M (1)

scottennis (225462) | about 10 years ago | (#10044390)

Does this mean that we'll soon be getting more durable Post-it Notes?

Humm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044396)

Since Alumina is the same stuff that's naturally occuring in gems like rubies, does that mean they'll be able to create rubies synthetically?

impeccable timing (2, Funny)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | about 10 years ago | (#10044397)

Star Trek IV was on CBS on Saturday night. I stayed up to watch the transparent aluminum scene -- who knew the real thing was coming just 2 days later?

Oh YEAH! Wonder Woman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10044400)

Now I can build myself that Wonder Woman jet I always wanted!

Tin-foil hat (2, Funny)

craigmarshall (679127) | about 10 years ago | (#10044402)

Woohoo! This means I can build myself a covert tinfoil hat!

forget about tinfoil hats! (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | about 10 years ago | (#10044413)

I'm gonna be upgrading to a transparent aluminium HELMET!

(complete with transparent aluminium visor, batteries not included, some assembly required)
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