"Metallic glass" sounds like an oxymoron, but it's Todd Hufnagel's goal. Hufnagel, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, hopes to create a metallic glass in bulk form with superior strength, elasticity, and magnetic properties that will not crystallize at higher temperatures. A glass is any material that can be cooled from a liquid to a solid without crystallizing. Most metals crystallize as they cool, arranging their atoms into a highly regular spatial pattern called a lattice. If crystallization does not occur, and the atoms settle into a nearly random arrangement, the final form will be a metallic glass. Hufnagel and associates are researching the deformation of glass alloys at high rates; and the phase transformation or crystallization window between liquid and solid states, when the material is soft enough to be molded; as well as new combinations of alloys. "Metallic glass is highly elastic, bending 2 to 3% before it permanently changes shape," Hufnagel says. This makes it a useful material for springs. The first commercial application to date is golf club heads. Mountain bike manufacturers are calling about the possibility of using the material as a shock absorber. Because metallic glass would not shrink, yet is extremely flexible, it may be ideal for injection molding, Hufnagel adds. Other applications: engine parts, electric transformers, and military applications, such as armor-piercing projectiles. FAX: (410) 516-5251.
If you see a hitchhiker along the road in Canada this summer, it may not be human. That’s because a robot is thumbing its way across our neighbor to the north as part of a collaborative research project by several Canadian universities.
Stanford University researchers have found a way to realize what’s been called the “Holy Grail” of battery-design research -- designing a pure lithium anode for lithium-based batteries. The design has great potential to provide unprecedented efficiency and performance in lithium-based batteries that could substantially drive down the cost of electric vehicles and solve the charging problems associated with smartphones.
Robots in films during the 2000s hit the big time; no longer are they the sidekicks of nerdy character actors. Robots we see on the big screen in recent years include Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Eddie Murphy. Top star of the era, Will Smith, takes a spin as a robot investigator in I, Robot. Robots (or androids or cyborgs) are fully mainstream in the 2000s.
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