According to the classic rules of physics, substances melt at a lower temperature when their sizes decrease. But scientists at Indiana University Bloomington have found that at least one substance, gallium, breaks the rules, remaining stable as a solid at temperatures as much as 400 degrees Fahrenheit above the elements normal melting point. Their report will be published in an upcoming issue of Physical Review Letters.
The discovery gives hope to some nanotechnologists and "nanocomputer" engineers, who have been worried that components will behave unpredictably at smaller sizes, possibly even melting at room temperature.
"We expect this finding will interest nanotechnologists and the manufacturers of tomorrows computers," said chemist Martin Jarrold, who led the National Science Foundation-funded research. "But we also believe chemists will find this phenomenon exciting -- it totally confounds their expectations."
David Bricker | Indiana University
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