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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Material ")

3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.

Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now thatís ninety-nine percent absorptive...' - Doc Smith, 1934.

New Paper - Write With Light Erase With Heat
Writing with light, erasing with heat.

Reconfigured Graphene 10X Strong, 5 Percent Dense, As Steel
'...It was made of Alohydrolium, which is the lightest of all metals.' - Hugo Gernsback, 1911.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'

iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.

Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'

Do We Really Want Backflipping Robots?
Also includes wonderful blooper reel.

RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.

Seasteading Floating Cities
'It was a remarkable island, circular, about half a kilometer in diameter.'

Tesla Semi 'Electrotruck' Unveiled
Elon Musk unveils yet another technological marvel.

Watch What People Are Seeing Via Brain Scanning
'had managed to see through the other man's eyes as the other man, all unaware, washed their Zis limousine sixteen hundred meters away...'

Integrated Circuits Printed Right Onto Fabric!
'...a shirt that displayed email on its sleeve.

Interstellar Asteroid Visits Our Solar System
'This asteroid had whirled in from the cold of the interplanetary space...'

PRIMA Bionic Vision Restoration
'The VISOR... was a medical device used in the Federation to aid patients who have suffered loss of eyesight...'

Audi Traffic Jam Pilot Knows If You're Sleeping
'Even here, riding a garbage truck to eternity, the machine watched him...'

UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records
Someday, we'll see an ion drive used to get to Mars.

Ionity Ultra-fast Charging Station Network
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

VAuth Voice Security Wearable From University of Michigan
'Siri, I gave you a voice command...' 'Yes, but do I know you?'

Ubiquiti FrontRow Camera Records Your Life
Why be choosy? Just upload your whole life to the Internet, and be done with it.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.