A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Rhenium Diboride Like Metal, Crystal
Rhenium diboride resembles both a metal and a crystal in structure. It's hard enough to scratch a diamond - and can be made cheaply and easily, according to a a study by UCLA researchers. The material is made from the metal rhenium and the element boron.
(Ingots of rhenium diboride are formed by heating
and mixing rhenium and boron)
Sarah Tolbert, Richard Kaner and colleagues considered what makes a substance hard. Metals don't compress easily because their atoms carry lots of electrons that repel nearby atoms; however, metals do bend easily. Crystals, on the other hand, form a crystal lattice that is rigid, but may be brittle under pressure.
The new substance combines both properties. Hard-to-compress rhenium was combined with boron, which forms a rigid scaffold of strong bonds with rhenium.
They heated and mixed rhenium and boron powder in a furnace and ran a large electric current through the mixture. This quickly melted the materials, allowing ingots a few centimetres across to form.
The ingots appear shiny like a metal but are also extremely hard, as measured by how much they resist being indented by a diamond tip. The material is nearly as hard as cubic boron nitride and boron suboxide, two of the hardest materials known, and like them can scratch diamond.
Science fiction fans may recall that EE "Doc" Smith wrote about something similar in his 1965 novel Subspace Explorers. He describes a super-strong alloy called "leybyrdite", whose key ingredient is rhenium.
"What would you think of an alloy that had a yield point -- not ultimate tensile, mind you, but yield -- of well over a million pounds, and yet an elongation of better than five percent?"
Deston whistled. "I would have said it was a pure pipe dream. What else is in it?"
"Mostly tungsten. A lot of tantalum. Rhenium around ten percent.
(Read more about leybyrdite)
Thanks to Winchell Chung for the tip; read more via NewScientist.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/25/2007)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
GNoME AI From DeepMind Invents Millions Of New Materials
'...the legendary creativity of our finest human authors pales against the mathematical indefatigability of GNoME.'
Omniphobic Liquid-like Surfaces And de Camp's Telelubricator (1940)
'So the surface, to the depth of a few molecules, is put in the condition of a supercooled liquid as long as the beam is focused on it.' - L. Sprague de Camp, 1940.
MXenes - Atomic-Thin Metal Sheets Now Easier To Make
'...a rolled-up sheet of a thin, dark metal strange to them.' - John Edwards, 1934.
Do We Still Need Orbiting Factories?
'... his contract with Space Industries required him to work summers in their orbital factory complex.' - Jerry Pournelle, 1976.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Ulm Sleep Pods For The Homeless
'The lid lifted and she crawled inside...'
Prophetic Offers Lucid Dreaming Halo With Morpheus-1 AI
''Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer...'
More Like A Tumblebug Than A Motorcycle
'It is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel...'
Tesla Camera-Only Vision Predicted In 1930's SF
'By its means, the machine can see.'
First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'
Aptera Solar EV More Stylish Than Heinlein Steel Tortoise
'When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.'
Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.'
Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.'
ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.'
AlphaGarden Robot Cares For Gardens Better Than Humans
'...a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms.'
Let's Make Slaver Sunflowers! Engineering Plants To Reflect Light
'The mirror-blossom was a terrible weapon.'
TeslaBot Uber Driver (2024) And The Automatic Motorist (1911)
'Robots have worse problems than anybody'
DiffuseBot Uses Generative AI To Invent New Soft Robots
'It embodies several small-scale multiple stampers, apparently for dealing with sheet metal.'
Philips Smart Palm Recognition Smart Deadbolt
'A palm lock must be keyed to one individual's hand shape...'
BMind Smart Mirror from Baracoda
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the greatest wellness of all?
Ballie Your AI Robot Companion From Samsung
Projects your content anywhere you like.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories