transparent metal

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
I caught a little bit of a segment on the show "unscrewed" on g4techtv a

couple nights ago. The host was interviewing this doctor who mentioned

something about an experiment that was done in a weightless environment.

(I don't know if it was on the shuttle or the international space station.)



Anyway, the experiment involved forging a metal alloy in space. He said that

it was about the size of a thumbnail, was 1000 times stronger than titanium,

lighter than styrofoam, & was transparent. He mentioned that with earth's

gravity the same alloy's molecules would separate while cooling, like vinegar

& oil in salad dressing.



Has anyone seen this or has any other info about this?
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Interesting! I've wondered for years if low-G metallurgy wouldn't produce such neat things... theoretically there's no reason why transparent metals couldn't be made. Heck, many terrestrial mundane metals are transparent to UV if they're pure enough. The wavelength(s) of transparency depend on the crystalline structures, so with the right structure... voila. Transparent to visible wavelengths.
  • Reply 2 of 29
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by mello

    I caught a little bit of a segment on the show "unscrewed" on g4techtv a

    couple nights ago. The host was interviewing this doctor who mentioned

    something about an experiment that was done in a weightless environment.

    (I don't know if it was on the shuttle or the international space station.)



    Anyway, the experiment involved forging a metal alloy in space. He said that

    it was about the size of a thumbnail, was 1000 times stronger than titanium,

    lighter than styrofoam, & was transparent. He mentioned that with earth's

    gravity the same alloy's molecules would separate while cooling, like vinegar

    & oil in salad dressing.



    Has anyone seen this or has any other info about this?




    fot the record, unscrewed is satire, essentaily the tech equivilent of "the daily show" but for nerds and geeks.



    I would accept tech news from martin sargent like world affairs headlines from John Stewart.
  • Reply 3 of 29
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by a_greer

    I would accept tech news from martin sargent like world affairs headlines from John Stewart.



    Considering that Stewart has a Peabody Award, you sure that means what you think that means?
  • Reply 4 of 29
    stoostoo Posts: 1,490member
    Quote:

    Transparent aluminum?



  • Reply 5 of 29
    banchobancho Posts: 1,517member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Stoo





    that was the fist thing that came to mind for me and I'mn not even a die-hard trekkie...
  • Reply 6 of 29
    drewpropsdrewprops Posts: 2,321member
    <ahem>



    That would be "Trekker", sir. :: pushing glasses back up onto nose ::
  • Reply 7 of 29
    johnqjohnq Posts: 2,763member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by drewprops

    <ahem>



    That would be "Trekker", sir. :: pushing glasses back up onto nose ::




    :: they slide back down twice as far ::



    :: repeat ::
  • Reply 8 of 29
    wmfwmf Posts: 1,164member
    That sounds a little like aerogel, although aerogels are more like glass than metal and they're not very strong.
  • Reply 9 of 29
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Nope, not even close. Aerogel is just aereated plastics. Very very cool, but nothing like this. This is actual metal, extremely strong, and very tough. You can squish aerogel between your fingers.
  • Reply 10 of 29
    johnqjohnq Posts: 2,763member
    Not too up on my holography so maybe a far far more elegant approach is possible, but, would it be possible to somehow use OLED and aerogel to form displays that use actual voxels?



    I mean like make a cube of pixels. You'd only need to fire the pixels for the 3d objects' surfaces (not like how voxels are used in cloud sims, where the volume matters even if you can't see it).



    Or is there a way to simulate this using only light and skipping the literal, physical pixel?



    I am a novice in this field, go easy.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    wmfwmf Posts: 1,164member
    From what I've read, most aerogels are made of silica (like glass) and they're brittle, not squishy.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    This sounds like a mish-mash of Aerogel (http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/aerogel.pdf) and syntactic metal foams (http://www.memagazine.org/backissues...ams/foams.html)
  • Reply 13 of 29
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by wmf

    From what I've read, most aerogels are made of silica (like glass) and they're brittle, not squishy.



    You can *crush* them between your fingers. Better?



    stupider... combining those two would just give you an aerogel matrix (brittle, fragile) with metallic nodules in it (non-transparent). What the original poster is talking about is something that is completely possible, according to QM theory. Pure metals, in a pure crystalline form, are transparent to particular wavelengths. That's just the truth. Most everyday metals we run across are not pure enough nor organized well enough to create transparent objects of any macroscopic size on *any* wavelength, but low/zero-G foundries should allow for that to be possible. Then it's a matter of working backwards from the lattice geometry and light wavelengths to determine what elements in what arrangement would allow for transparency at *visible* wavelengths.



    It's entirely possible: pure metal, transparent to visible light.



    Also, because the crystalline structure would be more close to perfect, the strength of the metal would approach the theoretical limit, something Terrestrial metalworks can't come close to. So yeah, it'd be stronger to boot.
  • Reply 14 of 29
    But would these transparent metals be lighter than styrofoam?



    Even the syntactic metal foams aren't that much lighter than the standard metal.
  • Reply 15 of 29
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    HUH?



    What the hell does transparency have to do with *WEIGHT*? I think you're thinking that somehow they just whipped the metal into a light froth to make it somehow transparent? Not even close. The transparency is a property of the arrangement of the atoms, just like it is for glass, or a quartz crystal.







    The syntactic metals are also about half the normal weight... that's quite significant.
  • Reply 16 of 29
    murbotmurbot Posts: 5,261member
    This conversation, in real life, would be totally engrossing if you were stoned.



  • Reply 17 of 29
    johnqjohnq Posts: 2,763member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by murbot

    This conversation, in real life, would be totally engrossing if you were stoned.







    Reminds me of A Scanner Darkly by Philip k. Dick when they all talk about the gears on the bike...
  • Reply 18 of 29
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by murbot

    This conversation, in real life, would be totally engrossing if you were stoned.







    You mean you guys aren't???



    Well, my face is red.
  • Reply 19 of 29
    maninmacmaninmac Posts: 64member
    COMPUTER!!



    COMPUTER??



  • Reply 20 of 29
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kickaha

    HUH?



    What the hell does transparency have to do with *WEIGHT*?




    The original post claims that this mystery material is both lightweight ("lighter than styrofoam" to be exact) *and* transparent.



    What you are talking about would only account for the transparency.
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