A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Rhenium Diboride Like Metal, Crystal
Rhenium diboride resembles both a metal and a crystal in structure. It's hard enough to scratch a diamond - and can be made cheaply and easily, according to a a study by UCLA researchers. The material is made from the metal rhenium and the element boron.
(Ingots of rhenium diboride are formed by heating
and mixing rhenium and boron)
Sarah Tolbert, Richard Kaner and colleagues considered what makes a substance hard. Metals don't compress easily because their atoms carry lots of electrons that repel nearby atoms; however, metals do bend easily. Crystals, on the other hand, form a crystal lattice that is rigid, but may be brittle under pressure.
The new substance combines both properties. Hard-to-compress rhenium was combined with boron, which forms a rigid scaffold of strong bonds with rhenium.
They heated and mixed rhenium and boron powder in a furnace and ran a large electric current through the mixture. This quickly melted the materials, allowing ingots a few centimetres across to form.
The ingots appear shiny like a metal but are also extremely hard, as measured by how much they resist being indented by a diamond tip. The material is nearly as hard as cubic boron nitride and boron suboxide, two of the hardest materials known, and like them can scratch diamond.
Science fiction fans may recall that EE "Doc" Smith wrote about something similar in his 1965 novel Subspace Explorers. He describes a super-strong alloy called "leybyrdite", whose key ingredient is rhenium.
"What would you think of an alloy that had a yield point -- not ultimate tensile, mind you, but yield -- of well over a million pounds, and yet an elongation of better than five percent?"
Deston whistled. "I would have said it was a pure pipe dream. What else is in it?"
"Mostly tungsten. A lot of tantalum. Rhenium around ten percent.
(Read more about leybyrdite)
Thanks to Winchell Chung for the tip; read more via NewScientist.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/25/2007)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
Tiny Mining - Extract Precious Industrial Minerals From Your Own Body
'Jim, I saw them reduce four of my doctors and nurses into those little cubes!' - Gene Roddenberry, 1968.
Polyaramide Is Stronger Than Steel, Light As Plastic
'... harnessed by aludur straps' - Leo Zagat, 1943.
Trinitite, Pentagrams And Isaac Asimov
'...And there were horns.' - Isaac Asimov, 1956.
RUSSE Self-Healing Plastic Works Underwater
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
LoadRunner Robot Works Alone, Or In A Group
'They marched in unison, seven of them...'
Sierra Space Inflatable LIFE Habitat Burst Pressure Test
'It was like being inside a balloon...'
Longest Immersed Tunnel Will Connect Denmark and Germany
'... iron tubes... the ends of the tubes were joined to each other...to preserve it from the action of the seawater.'
Alcohol-Sensing Cars - NTSB Catches Up With Philip K. Dick (1963)
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive....'
Solar-Powered Remote-Control Cockroaches!
'A cable, here, from the controller to the interface plug... wires from that to the brain.'
SolarBotanic Tree For Solar Energy - Would You Need A Forest, Or Just One?
'The slender stalks of a sunshade-photocell collector...'
Metaverse Hardware - Run And Flail Like A Maniac, Or Lie Quietly?
'Holodeck 4 was waiting to be programmed...'
Robot Food Delivery Coming To Campus Near You
'... he rewired the delivery robot so that it would serve him midnight snacks.'
Are Craiyon Images Puddinged, ala Philip K. Dick?
'I stood in line for half an hour for this, and it's just a blob!'
Hip'Safe Airbag For Seniors, From Helite
'Other airbags go off around her torso and pelvis...'
Soulaje Self-Administered Euthanasia Wearable Prototype
'A young man... advanced with nervous strides along the gravel path which leads to the bronze doors of the Lethal Chamber.'
Midjourney AI Creates 'Théâtre D'opéra Spatial', Wins Art Fair First Prize
'... we'll give him in his brain what he needs for creation.'
Mobot Robot Tests Smartphone Apps With Its Finger
'Rapidly, purposefully, the metallic fingers moved over the key-boards...'
Space-Based Solar Power A Priority - European Space Agency
'...vast man-made disk of metal set spinning about the sun to supply the Earth with power.'
Goldilocks Zones Found On The Moon
Hopefully, there are no Mynocks in shadowed lunar craters, chewing on the power cables of spacecraft...
Robotic Surgeons Outperform Human Surgeons
'...the objects moving about so gently and putting their instruments away were not living beings, but robots.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories