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back to article Glass aeroplanes and iPads on the way, say boffins

A new breakthrough in superspeed pulse mould technology will allow aeroplanes, mobile phone casings and suchlike to be made out of a miraculous type of glass which is as tough as metal, according to the inventors of the new process. So-called "metallic glass" has been well known since 1960 and has been in industrial production …

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Obvious quote...

'How do we know he didn't invent it in the first place?'

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Coat

Transparent Aluminium?

...this wasn't invented in San Francisco, was it?

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DJV
Coat

@z0mbee

No, if it had been it would have been called "Transparent Aluminum"

Ok, I'll get me coat...

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Coat

And it'll be pronounced as

"Transpairaint (notice the twang) Aloominum"

Mines the one with slightly xenophobic undertones woven into it.

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FAIL

Pronounced as it probably should be...

"(Humphrey) Davy settled on aluminum by the time he published his 1812 book Chemical Philosophy: "This substance appears to contain a peculiar metal, but as yet Aluminum has not been obtained in a perfectly free state, though alloys of it with other metalline substances have been procured sufficiently distinct to indicate the probable nature of alumina."

(source - wikimadeupstuff.com)

Last time I checked, he was British...

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Actually

It was invented in Lexington Massachusetts, if you're thinking of aluminium oxynitride, aka ALON, anyway. Best part, the patent was granted in 1985 so it's been free for a few years now.

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Anonymous Coward

Not sure

but 3M did that years ago- just not with ohmic heating.

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Terminator

Chainglass!

(props to Neal Asher)

As this is metal with some properties of glass, not glass with some properties of metal, I presume it is not transparent; so calling it 'metallic glass' is a bit misleading.

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Transparency

I wondered the same thing, and as far as I can see this stuff can't be made transparent. It seems it's more often known as "amorphous metal", though naturally the media prefer the far cooler sounding "metallic glass".

So I guess we won't be looking down through a glass floor from 30,000 feet any time soon.

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Joke

Indeed

Indeed, it's clearly (heh!) a 'glassy metal'

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Title?

Had the same thoughts exactly.

I'll have to link him on his blog.

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Glass is one of the names used..

for these disorder states of matter. Amorphous could also be applied. Most non-crystalline materials are not transparent. One of the routine challenges most organic chemists face when synthesising new compounds is to convert an often mass of sticky gum or stiff glass into a crystalline material.

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Happy

@ Jerome

"So I guess we won't be looking down through a glass floor from 30,000 feet any time soon."

Not even sure I'd want to...especially for x number of hours. I (and the rest of the Acrophobics) would be gibbering wrecks...

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Black Helicopters

@Jerome 0

I looked down through a glass floor/window of an aircraft over 30 years ago. It was a KC135 tanker transport. As it was being used for transporting my unit to the USA, the refueling facility was not in use. I found it much comfier than the standard military seating.

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Look down at the baggage in the hold

What a view!

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Alien

transparent al uminum mr scott.?? well done

well i presume star trek were not too far wrong when they used transparent aluminium for a fish tank....

oh yeah i know whales arent fish..... smart ass...!!

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Headmaster

And neither...

...was the tank transparent alumin(i)um - Scotty got the necessary perspex (or plexiglass) in exchange for the formula for TA.

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Joke

glass planes

Is it just me thats thinking this will make the mile high club a lot more interesting

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Coat

well

at least you know she won't be counting the cracks in the ceiling...

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Pint

If you want a sample of metalglass...

Open up one of those anti-shiplifting tags, the sort used in CDs and DVDs (not the spiral type, but the layered sticks). According to something I read somewhere, the metal layers inside are this crystal-free metalglass alloy.

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Coat

That's heavy, man...

I'd have thought that most ports rely on the mass of the ships to prevent people carrying them off....

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Glass Planes?

Wonderwoman already had one.

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Paris Hilton

Apple already in this game

From last August (Liquidmetal counter-inuitively makes solid metal glass):

http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/08/09/apple-buys-out-liquidmetal-patents-to-stay-one-step-ahead-in-materials-game/

According to the vid, metal glass is also super-bouncy. Paris, as she's super-bouncy too.

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It has one more property

The biggest bugbear with plastics are the things like the European Waste disposal directive and/or further tightening of the recycling regime. Plastic can never be recycled properly. The recycled material is always inferior mechanically to the original one. Glass does not have this problem. So if you have to take back stuff the way electronics, cars and white goods are regulated in the EU (and most of the world) and if you are obliged to recycle at least 90%+ of it metal glass starts making LOTS of sense.

So if apple has bought the IPR on this it can now start driving 99% recycling or force the issue on recycling all casings, etc. It will be able to do it at much lower cost than its competitors and can demonstrate some green cred and keep the greenies happy.

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Coat

Glass metal desks

...will make fapping in the workplace much harder...

my dirty mind and I go to wonderful places...

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Paris Hilton

To Quote My Wife...

"stiffness isn't everything, but it is a good start." Aircraft parts have to have flexibility as well. I'd like to see a LOT of testing on how well this "wondro-stuff" handles repeated loading over thousands of cycles.

Paris...the patron saint of stiffys

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Prior art

Wonder woman's plane was transparent too.

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Pint

No matter how wonderous the material...

...my boss will still break it. Idiocy and ignorance trumps technology every single time.

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Boffin

Can't see it being that useful for aeroplanes...

As i understand it, while amorphous metal has some fantastic properties, it's not too good for load bearing or high stress use as small cracks propogate far easier through amorphous materials as crystal boundaries usually stop cracks propogating (this is why regular glass shatters so easily)

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Go

OK... but I bet I can make a great driver out of it

TaylorMade...are you listening? The stock for your r15 beckons!

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Alien

You can already buy this sort of stuff from General Products

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Products_(Larry_Niven)

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Alien

Erm, ok...

... but I can't see any Pierson's Puppeteers around here right now...

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Terminator

And never will...

... if we keep dicking around and don't get off this planet!

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Phew

And there was me worrying I'd look a bit geeky if I mentioned transparent aluminium.

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Apple?

So, another news article that is nothing to do with Apple (no more than any other phone or computer manufacturer), but we still have to have the obligitary Apple mention.

(If history is anything to go by, this feature will appear first in other smartphones, perhaps even feature phones, whilst Apple fans say "But why would I want that?" Then later it'll be featured in an Apple phone, and be hailed as revolutionary...)

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Grenade

John I'm only dancing

Don't know about the iPhone guts but there's a metalglass sim removal tool in each iPhone box, I only mention this because it's clear you will find this trivia mildly annoying and because it's unnervingly strong for a paperclip like object.

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WTF?

A what?

A metalglass SIM removal tool? Couldn't they just have designed the phone properly so I didn't need specialised tooling to do something that every user (or at least every secondhand user) will have to do? You're right, that is mildly annoying.

Also, is it actually Metalglass or just perspex? using Metalglass seems like a lot of trouble to go to for a tool that shouldn't exist...

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Has nobody actually grasped this article?

The "Glass" part of this is the structure, not the fact it is transparent. Metallic glass will look like metal but be an order of magnitude stronger because of it's glass like structure. Like how a glass vase is stronger whole than broken to bits and glued together.

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Pint

Of course they have

but "they" seem to be also capable of seeing an amusing side to the story.

Lighten up a bit and have a beer.

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wim
Happy

can I have my beer

in a metal glass please ?

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Unhappy

Unnecessary inventions

I have enough trouble with the idea of being catapulted through the air in a tin can, I don't think I could cope with transparent tin can.

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Don't all rush at once

An injection moulding process that requires a megawatt or more for a fist-sized bullet is NOT going to be scaled up to the size of aircraft wings any time soon.

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Go

Doesn't need to be the whole wing

Wings are mostly hollow; so it would presumably be used for the spars and ribs. I'm not sure it would be used for the skin as they're in love with carbon fiber at the moment for that

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Boffin

@Ken Hagan

@"An injection moulding process that requires a megawatt or more for a fist-sized bullet is NOT going to be scaled up to the size of aircraft wings any time soon."

"a sub-millisecond period a full megawatt of power" ... is not the same as a megawatt hour. (Because its only a sub-millisecond period).

A capacitor bank could easily achieve a brief pulse at a megawatt. Also capacitor banks have been built much bigger than 1 megawatt per pulse.

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Jobs Halo

Carbon fibre mixed with amorphus metal

Urgh!

Now we have joint problems

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Anonymous Coward

Glass planes?

Nothing new. We've had the tech to build ceramic ones (with similar properties as metalo-glass) for years.

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Boffin

"glassy" is a state of matter, It's *not* transparent.

In fact opacity depends on the bonding between different atoms. The near *total* lack of order in this solid might make it *more* opaque than crystallised metal.

Note that most metal glasses are made by rapid *cooling* at around 1000 000 deg /sec by praying a sheet at a fast spinning water cooled copper cylinder. Only the thinness of the sheets *allows* the cooling to be this fast. AFAIK the *big* use of this stuff is in transformers and other magnetic components due to *much* better magnetic properties. However their temperature limit is *low*. While the raw alloy might be good to the Curie point of the alloy this stuff will start loosing its properties c275c as the atoms start to move and in principle it will begin to re-crystallize outward from whatever crystalline material it's in contact with.

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Happy

Glassic Metal

Better name than metalic glass.

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Coat

but but...

"...rather extremely rapid "ohmic heating". A brief but extremely powerful jolt of electric current is passed through the 2cm metalglass billet..."

We use a similar process to join pieces of metal all the time, albeit with a billet somewhat smaller in diameter ~3mm and usually covered in a protective material that burns off to prevent oxidation. Sometimes we use a shielding gas supplied from a tank and delivered through a handle that feeds very thin metal billet from a spool into the area of metal joining. I've heard some of the guys talk about using Russian jets but I think the fumes must be getting to them.

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Jobs Halo

We are talking spot welding

Are we not?

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