‘Stronger Than Steel’ Glass Invented; Star Trek, Mass Effect Combined

We’re not the first to make this observation, but we’ll do it any way. Science has brought us one step closer to Star Trek. But in the process have accidentally stumbled sideways into Mass Effect. We’re talking about the fascinating invention of a metallic glass that has demonstrated resilience and damage-toughness ‘beyond that of any known material’. Let that sink in: it’s transparent, and stronger than metal.

Glass stronger and tougher than steel? A new type of damage-tolerant metallic glass, demonstrating a strength and toughness beyond that of any known material, has been developed and tested by a collaboration of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)and the California Institute of Technology. What’s more, even better versions of this new glass may be on the way.

“These results mark the first use of a new strategy for metallic glass fabrication and we believe we can use it to make glass that will be even stronger and more tough,” says Robert Ritchie, a materials scientist who led the Berkeley contribution to the research.

Yes, we’re describing Transparent aluminum. And that’s awesome, but here’s what caught our eye:

The new metallic glass is a microalloy featuring palladium, a metal with a high “bulk-to-shear” stiffness ratio that counteracts the intrinsic brittleness of glassy materials.

“Because of the high bulk-to-shear modulus ratio of palladium-containing material, the energy needed to form shear bands is much lower than the energy required to turn these shear bands into cracks,” Ritchie says. “The result is that glass undergoes extensive plasticity in response to stress, allowing it to bend rather than crack.”

That’s right folks, we’re talking about this stuff:

And you thought it was another fictional god-particle like Element Zero. Shame on you. So what the hell is palladium? It’s an elemental metal, part of the Platinum group of metals, which includes Platinum (duh). All group metals are highly resistant to wear, which is why they’re popular for making jewelry. But they also have some extremely useful qualities, like excellent high-temperature characteristics, resistance against chemical attack, and stable Electrical properties. Palladium is notable for having the lowest melting point and density of the group. This apparently makes it very useful in the catalytic conversion process, which is why 90% of the world’s utilized Palladium is currently found in our cars, making toxic fumes slightly more breathable, and is also likely why they selected it for this, er, super glass.

Until yesterday, we assumed that the Normandy needed so much palladium in order to convert the gaseous emissions resulting from all that Eezo processed to make a ship’s Mass Effect field stable. Now? We’re guessing they need it for the windows of their awesome f*ck pads observation decks. Good to know.

Meanwhile, speaking of things you probably thought were always going to be fictional, did you know science has already theorized element zero? It’s true. Now if we could only get to Mars and discover the Prothean Ruins before we run out of planet, I might be able to relax.

Via Badass Digest

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