Metals are considered one of the most-used materials in the contemporary built world. They are found in everything right from buildings to smartphones to aircraft. As almost all metals are mined from the soil, researchers have lately developed a new age of metals in the lab. It is called metallic glass.
These so called bulk metallic glasses possess distinct attributes. They are more efficient and harder compared to the regular metals, however may be formed like plastics.
These lab-made substances appear like normal metals, but are smoother and extremely gleaming. The mystery behind their rare attributes is due to their structure on an atomic level. Bulk metallic glasses are made from several components, including Nickel, Zirconium, Aluminum, Gold, Copper, and Platinum. They show quite high power. If you tear, twist or press a piece of any of these metals, it is so solid that deforming it permanently is quite difficult. Furthermore, it can store much more deformation energy than several other metals, making it the perfect spring material.
What makes bulk metallic glasses distinct is their impressive strength coupled with their capacity to flow like a sticky liquid when in a unique super-cooled liquid state that normal metal cannot really attain. When heated to a particular temperature range, they flow like viscous liquid.
This makes it possible to mold these unique metals by hot-forming processing usually used for regular glasses and plastics. In concept, you can also blow the metals just like you would with bottle glasses.
All metals in nature possess a consistent, repeating arrangement of atoms, where atoms are piled up nearly uniformly in a three-dimensional lattice. Conversely, these lab-made bulk metallic glasses possess a more or less random atomic arrangement. This is because that they are produced by cooling heated liquid material so quick that atoms are “frozen-in” at their present positions, which keeps the amorphous structure of a liquid.
Normal metals experience some flaws that broadly occur in their normal, crystalline structure. When a force is applied, those flaws assist the planes of structured atoms glide past one another; hence, these alloys can certainly be permanently deformed. This does not occur in bulk metallic glasses as their atoms are generally combined, not structured in an organized grid. Their structure signifies they can withstand much larger deformation or force until their shape is completely changed.
The uncommon thing about the bulk metallic glasses is their capability to flow like a thick liquid in their super-cooled liquid state – a special state they can remain in quite stably, while nearly impossible for regular metals to achieve. To get a bulk metallic glass into this rare condition, you heat it to some temperature range – typically a little more than two-thirds of the way to its melting point – the supposed super-cooled liquid region. The increasing temperature unfreezes the atoms to allow them move about. They act like a liquid, however a very thick, slow-flowing one. Utilizing this unique viscous flow region, researchers can form and shape the geometries of bulk metallic glasses into sophisticated shapes.
It is these wonderful attributes that make bulk metallic glasses very attractive for consumer electronics applications.