Every cell phone owner has faced the agony of cell phonesafety and wish for their phones to be un-breakable. While all of us may not be graceful in handling our mobile phones, science once again aims to help us out with our wishes.
The researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been trying to understand why some metallic alloys can form glasses while the others can not. The study describes a method to systematically find the promising mixes from among dozens of candidates.
Research lead by Carl. V. Thompson, the Stavros Salapatas Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and director of the Materials Processing Center at MIT, says that "It is very difficult to make glasses from metals compared to any other class of materials, such as semiconductors, ceramics and polymers,".According to the researchers, glass are solids with structures that of a liquid, where the atoms are arranged randomly instead of the orderly pattern of a crystal.
The researcher said that scientists have for decades focused on "understanding and on exploiting the remarkable properties of these materials, and on understanding why some alloy compositions can be made into glasses and others cannot."
However Thompson has said that the new study did "provide a very specific and quantitative new insight into the characteristics of liquid alloys that can most readily be quenched into the glassy state," and thus provided a much more rapid way of discovering new alloys with the right properties.
Thompson along with MIT post-doc Johannes A. Kalb with Professor Yi Li and graduate student Qiang Guo at the National University of Singapore has managed to produce an array of different alloys with slightly varying proportions of two metals, each deposited on a separate microscopic finger of metal. On analysing the changes in the density when the glass crystallized, it was found that there were a few specific proportions that had significantly higher density than the others.
The team thus concluded that those particular alloys were the ones that could readily form glasses. The team said that two of the three of those special proportions were already known glass-forming alloys, but the third was a new discovery that could even lead to a solution to the longstanding puzzle of why only certain alloys make glasses.
"I expect these new results, and the technique we developed to obtain them, will play a key, and hopefully decisive, role in solving the mystery of metallic glass formation," said the researchers. Such materials are valuable as they have unusual physical and magnetic properties.
This breed of glasses can be used for manufacturing equipments like golf clubs or tennis rackets, as they have unusually hard mechanically and have a high degree of springiness. Though these glass products are going to be expensive but may also provide long term solutions for unbreakable cell phones and best of sports equipments.