New metallic glass promises super strength

Researchers led by Caltech come up with a substance they say is stronger and tougher than any other material. Sadly, it probably won't show up in cell phones.

palladium sample
A notched, glassy palladium sample does not shatter after severe bending, despite the generation of multiple cracks. Caltech/Maximilien E. Launey

Think Corning's Gorilla Glass is the toughest around? Maybe not for long. A research team led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology has created a metallic glass that's not just tough, but also strong--a combination known as damage tolerance.

While most of us use toughness and strength interchangeably, they are actually mutually exclusive and, in most cases, inversely proportionate to one another. Building materials like bricks are strong in the sense that hitting them will not result in a change in shape. But once you apply enough force to create a shear line, they break.

Rubber tires, on the other hand, deform easily with relatively little energy, but are extremely tough as it takes much more force to rip the material to shreds.

The metallic glass, detailed in this week's issue of Nature Materials, is actually a micro-alloy made from a combination of palladium, a small fraction of silver, and a mixture of other metalloids. The researchers claim the material has shown itself in tests to have a combination of strength and toughness not previously seen in any other material.

Despite its name, the material is not transparent, notes Marios Demetriou, a senior research fellow at Caltech. The internal structure is the only glasslike thing about metallic glass.

While the substance is still much too expensive to use in everyday items such as laptops and cell phones, the scientists say it could soon be used in biomedical products such as dental implants, as well as in automotive and aerospace components.

(Source: Crave Asia)

CNET's Leslie Katz contributed to this report.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments
Latest Galleries from CNET
The best and worst quotes of 2014 (pictures)
A roomy range from LG (pictures)
This plain GE range has all of the essentials (pictures)
Sony's 'Interview' heard 'round the world (pictures)
Google Lunar XPrize: Testing Astrobotic's rover on the rocks (pictures)
CNET's 15 favorite How Tos of 2014