"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.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.