New materials allow new designs. The Financial Times reported on the Materials Library at King’s College London
Materials libraries are one of the newest and most intriguing manifestations of materials science, which is itself a relatively new term to describe an age-old discipline – the study of the relationship between the molecular structure of materials and their perceptible physical properties, such as hardness, softness, flexibility or brittleness. In the past, the study of materials fell under metallurgy, chemistry and solid-state physics. But in the last half-century, with more new materials being created than in all previous history, their sheer variety – plastics, semiconductors, biomaterials – could no longer be understood merely within the classical disciplines.
Take Aerogel: the world’s lightest solid consists of 99.8 per cent air and looks like a vague, hazy mass. And yet despite its insubstantial nature, it is remarkably strong; and because of its ability to nullify convection, conduction and radiation, it also happens to be the best insulator in the world. Sitting next to the Aerogel is its thermal opposite, a piece of aluminium nitride, which is such an effective conductor of heat that if you grasp a blunt wafer of it in your hand, the warmth of your body alone allows it to cut through ice.
Read the whole article: "A library of the world’s most unusual compounds" by George Pendle.
Thanks to Boing Boing
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