The metallic alloy known as the metallic glass had been a scientific promise for years. Scientists made the prediction of having metal that can combine the properties of glass and metal together yet stronger than the popular strong metal known as steel, the prediction was made over 50 years ago.
The breakthrough to the prediction started in 1960 when W.Klement (Jr.) & Duwez produced the first metallic glass at Caltech, it was after that period that hope came to other researchers for a possible stronger and glass-like metal existence.
The first metallic glass did not fulfill all that was expected, therefore; since then scientists had been trying to modify the already made one to suit the required properties or create entirely new type. Various metallic glass made in the past were cooled at the order of one megakelvin per second (108K/S) which is an extremely rapid cooling speed. The reason for such cooling of the metal was to avoid crystallization.
The unique difference that exists between a metallic glass and conventional metals is their crystal structure arrangements. While other metals have crystallization arrangement, the metallic glass does not have crystallization arrangement in its crystal structures. It is the arrangement of the crystalline structures of other metals that made them become , good examples of such metal includes copper, aluminum, and iron, etc.
Making of the metallic glass had never been an easy task and only one method of its production was used by the early scientists, while the modern methods include; extremely rapid cooling, physical vapor deposition, solid-state reaction, ion radiation, and mechanical alloying. The early and oldest production form is typically made from ribbons, foils, or in which one dimension was small so that heat could be extracted quickly enough to achieve the necessary cooling rate. It is because of the above method of production that made the metallic glass thickness to be limited to one hundred micrometers.
Despite the uneven arrangement of its crystalline structures which other metals have, metallic glass was found to be a good conductor of electricity. It combines the full properties of glass and metal, such that its uses were found to be very versatile which made some scientists refer to it as an amorphous metal.
Besides being an electrical conductor, there are lots of properties the metallic glass has that made scientists to start looking for its improvement some of such properties include:
- High and rust resistant.
- An extremely smooth surface like that of a glass.
- Stronger strength than steel.
- It offers reflective and shiny surface.
- Low reaction to a chemical attack, etc.
From the above properties, it can be confirmed that the metallic glass which is also called amorphous metal can be applied for the following uses:
- As a protective coating for materials that need extreme protection from rust & .
- The smooth surface can assist in using it as a base for conveying channels in a plant production and assembling lines.
- Being stronger than steel made it useful for structural erections.
- It can be used in automobiles to reveal aesthetics of a vehicle.
- Having a low reaction to chemical attack can make it another alternative where plastic, glass or any chemical attack resistance materials are not available for the handling of chemicals.
Scientists also believed the metal can be made to become lighter & stronger than even high carbon steels as time progresses.
Recently a group led by scientists at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator , the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Northwestern University has reported a shortcut for discovering and improving metallic glass -- and, by extension, other elusive materials -- at a fraction of the time and cost. The group took advantage of the SLAC’s Standford synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), the system works with a combination of a learning technics. A method is a form of an where computer algorithms glean knowledge from an enormous amount of data combined with experiments that quickly screen hundreds of sample materials at a time, which made the group discover 3 new brands of materials that formed a metallic glass at a speed which is 200 times faster than the normal method.
It is believed that using artificial intelligence and robots further will reveal more details about metallic glass and provide better & faster ways the material can be made.
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