Forget lead to gold or the need for the fabled Philosopher’s Stone, an international research team has figured out how make liquid cement into liquid metal. The results were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in “Network topology for the formation of solvated electrons in binary CaO–Al2O3 composition glasses.”
The team melted mayenite (a component of alumina cement made of calcium and aluminum oxides) at 2000° C using an aerodynamic levitator with carbon dioxide laser beam heating. The levitator kept the molten material from touching any surface and cooling to form crystals. Instead, it cooled into a glassy state that can trap electrons that provide conductivity in a similar manner to metal.
“This phenomenon of trapping electrons and turning liquid cement into liquid metal was found recently, but not explained in detail until now,” said Chris Benmore, a physicist from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. “Now that we know the conditions needed to create trapped electrons in materials we can develop and test other materials to find out if we can make them conduct electricity in this way.”
The new metallic glass material has a number of potential applications, including use in LCDs, as a semi-conductor, and possibly even computer chips. Below you’ll find a video that discusses the properties of metallic glass.
Source: Argonne National Laboratory