This is how it works: The Bremen-based scientists insert hollow glass balls measuring a maximum of 60 micrometers into the metal during casting. "If the glass balls are evenly distributed, we get a smooth surface that feels absolutely smooth – like metal. If the glass content is unevenly distributed, the material gets a distinctive new appearance, full of streaks," says Dr. Jörg Weise of the foundry technology working group in the Shaping and Functional Materials branch of the institute. Although the material is extremely porous, it looks as smooth as metal and weighs only a fraction of the amount: As an example, the density of aluminum is reduced from 2.7 grams per cubic centimeter to only 1.2 grams per cubic centimeter, and that of zinc from seven grams per cubic centimeter to less than half, or only 3.1 grams per cubic centimeter.
"Our material can’t quite float on water yet, but we’re working on it," Weise predicts with a wink. The aluminum composite material has a density similar to that of a polymer, but feels as high-grade as metal and has a high temperature resistance as well. Despite being so light, it can withstand pressures up to 1 000 bar – equivalent to the pressure at a depth of a thousand meters under water. Its special structure enables the light metal to absorb energy in the event of a crash. There are further benefits, too: "Because its pores are so microscopically small, the material can be plated in a similar way to a compact non-porous metal. We are currently carrying out investigations jointly with an industrial partner, HDO Druckguss- and Oberflächentechnik GmbH of Paderborn, on the possibility of chrome-plating zinc containing hollow glass balls," Weise reports. He believes there are potential applications not only in design elements, but also in the lightweight construction industry.
Monika Weiner | alfa
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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
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In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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