Aluminate Glass: Did Scientists Create Transparent Aluminum?
Anatoly Rosenflanz and colleagues at 3M in Minnesota used a "flame spray" technique to alloy aluminum oxide with rare-earth metal oxides to create a strong glass with good optical qualities - transparent alumninum! Well, okay, it's really transparent alumina - but that's probably as close as you Trekkies are likely to get.
(From Bulk Rare-Earth Aluminate Glasses)
Ordinary glass is cooled quickly, so its atoms have no time to form an ordered lattice - a crystal. Silica is typically used in glass because it can be cooled quickly. Until now, alumina was seen as a highly desirable constituent for glass, because it would have superior mechanical properties. And how well did their process work?
"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."
Read Glass Breakthrough at PhysicsWeb for the details.
SF fans of course remember transparent aluminum from Star Trek IV. The forumula for this extremely tough but clear substance is traded for Plexiglas to make the walls of a tank for a pair of humpback whales. Now I'm feeling bad about the snarky Tinfoil Hats Now Made With Transparent Aluminum April Fool's Day story I did earlier in the year...
Thanks to Winchell Chung for the tip story - and thanks for readers who wrote in with corrections.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/23/2004)
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 ( 5 )
Related News Stories -
Self-Healing Circuits From Carnegie Mellon
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme. - Frank Herbert, 1965.
Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'- J.G. Ballard, 1962.
3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.
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.
Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'
You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'
Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'
Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.
Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.
Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'
First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.
VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'
Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.
Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...
Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...'
MIT Boffins Create Psychopath AI On Purpose
There's a lesson in this for neural net AI engineers everywhere.
Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...'
Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!
China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.
Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories