First ever single crystal metallic glass created under 25 gigapascals of pressure
Scientists recently used a diamond anvil like this one to squeeze tiny samples of metallic glass. Under very high pressure, the samples switched from their amorphous, glassy state to form a single crystal -- the first time this behavior has been seen in a glass. The discovery. published in the June 17 issue of Science, could help scientists design better metallic glasses, which are widely used in power transformers, anti-theft tags and other products, and it may help explain why these materials are so tough. Credit: Image courtesy Brad Plummer/SLAC.
Glass, by definition, is amorphous; its atoms lack order and are arranged every which way. But when scientists squeezed tiny samples of a metallic glass under high pressure, they got a surprise: The atoms lined up in a regular pattern to form a single crystal.
"The structure of glass is still mysterious. We know little about it, even though we use glass a lot," said Qiaoshi (Charles) Zeng of Zhejiang University in China, who led a research team of scientists from SLAC, Stanford, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, George Mason University and China's Jilin University. "And it's not easy investigating the structure of glass by traditional methods."
Zeng, who will be joining Mao's group at Stanford in July, said the high-pressure technique may offer a new approach for making single-crystal materials from glasses. In addition, he said, it provides a unified understanding of the atomic structures of materials by directly linking the two most extreme examples: highly ordered single crystals and highly disorganized glass.Provided by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (news : web)