Feeds

New 'liquid smart metal' can go hard or floppy

Self-healing too. Insert mimetic polyalloy reference here

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Top boffins in Germany and China say they have developed a remarkable new type of material which can switch from being strong and hard to soft and squashy at the touch of a button.

Jörg Weißmüller, materials scientist at both the Technical University of Hamburg and the Helmholtz Geesthacht Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung, has carried out research on the new "smart metal", working in cooperation with colleagues from the Institute for Metal Research in Shenyang, China. Weißmüller describes the achievements as "a breakthrough in the material sciences".

"For the first time we have succeeded in producing a material which, while in service, can switch back and forth between a state of strong and brittle behavior and one of soft and malleable," says the prof. "We are still at the fundamental research stage but our discovery may bring significant progress in the development of so-called smart materials.”

The German and Chinese scientists have achieved this by taking metals – in experiments so far, gold or platinum – and corroding them using acid. This creates minute ducts and holes in the metal, and the result is a nanostructured porous material.

The pores are then filled up with a conductive liquid such as saline solution, creating what the Helmholtz Zentrum scientists describe as "a true hybrid material of metal and liquid". Passing an electric signal through this hybrid stuff can cause huge changes in its properties.

According to a statement from the Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung:

Specific applications are still a matter for the future. However, researchers are already thinking ahead. In principle, the material can create electric signals spontaneously and selectively, so as to strengthen the matter in regions of local stress concentration. Damage, for instance in the form of cracks, could thereby be prevented or even healed. This has brought scientists a great step closer to their objective of ‘intelligent’ high performance materials.

The new research is outlined in hefty boffinry mag Science, here. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.