"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.
There is currently much discussion around the term "platform," which may be preceded by the adjectives "mobile," "wearable," "medical," "healthcare," etc. However, regardless of the platform being discussed, they usually have one key aspect in common: They tend to be wireless. So, why is this one aspect so fairly universal? The answer is convenience.
Everyone has a MEMS story. For most of us it’s probably the airbag that saved our lives or the life of a loved one. Perhaps it’s the tire pressure sensor that alerted us about deflation before we were stranded alone on a dark muddy road.
Bioimimicry is not merely a helpful design tool -- it also encourages designers to think not only about how to solve design problems by imitating nature, but how to make the products, materials, and systems they design more ecologically sound and nature-friendly.
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