Shape-Memory Metal Transforms Millions Of Times
An alloy of shape-memory metal has been created by a team of German and American scientists. This metal is capable of being bent and reshaped 10 million times, which seems to be a record.
(I have absolutely no idea what this colorful graphic means)
Manfred Wuttig, a material scientist at the University of Maryland who helped lead the team, said the metal's "fortuitous discovery," was part of a long, frustrating hunt for durable shape-memory metal. As Wuttig and his colleagues detail in a new paper in the journal Science, understanding the secret to this material's hardiness may open the floodgates to a new generation of shape-memory materials that make it into the real world.
"This really is a huge breakthrough, and could make shape-memory alloys much more widely used in everyday technology" says Richard James, a leading shape-memory materials scientist at the University of Minnesota, who was not involved in the research, "I've personally made many, many [shape-memory] alloys that have various super interesting properties, but no one would be able to use them as they last only a few cycles."
The new metal keeps its astounding durability, Wuttig and James agree that scientists now have a platform to test and create new hyper-durable shape-changing alloys. While Wuttig's new alloy was only created in a thin film measuring several hundred micrometers, "the next step is to scale this up into a bulk alloy. But I see no reason why this would be an issue."
The first time I encountered the idea of a shape-memory metal alloy was in the amazing 1966 short novel Babel 17 by Samuel R. Delany:
He raised his hand. "Suppose you needed a gun"—in the Barons's hand now was a sleek vibra-gun of a model later than she had ever seen — ''or a crescent wrench." Now he held a foot long wrench. He adjusted the opening. "Or a machete." The blade glistened as he waved his arm back...
An unexpected property of polarized matter is tensile-memory." They moved toward an archway Into the next room. "Annealed in any shape for a time, and codified, the structure of that shape is retained down to the molecules. At any angle to the direction that the matter has been polarized in, each molecule has completely free movement. Just jar it, and it falls into that structure like a rubber figure returning to shape." The Baron glanced back at the case.
"Simple, really. There"—he motioned toward the filing cabinets along the wall—"is the real weapon: approximately three thousand individual plans incorporating that little polarized chunk..."
(Read more about Tensile Memory Polarized Matter)
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