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Making metals like plastics, could lead to better electronics

Making metals like plastics, could lead to better electronics

Posting in Energy

It's stronger than steel, but the new material can be molded into any shape.

Researchers at Yale University have created a number of nifty shapes out of a new type of metal: metallic bottles, biomedical implants and watch cases.

The trick? The scientists have figured out a way to blow metal alloys into any shape, in the same way they'd mold plastic objects.

Normally metals are stuck in a crystalline structure, which makes manufacturing them quite tricky. But not in this case.

The scientists have figured out how to get this new type of material to be as twice as strong as steel. Want another bragging point for the scientists? It only takes a minute to blow the metal into a desired shape.

The scientists used a class of metals called bulk metallic glasses (BMGs), which is made of up different metals including zirconium, nickel, titanium and copper. It can be molded in low temperatures and low pressures, making the material cheaper and easier to produce. While the cost of the material is as much as steel, fabricating the material is cheaper because the blow molding technique eliminates the energy draining process involved in normal metal fabrication.

Yale materials scientist Jan Schroers said in a statement:

This could enable a whole new paradigm for shaping metals. The superior properties of BMGs relative to plastics and typical metals, combined with the ease, economy and precision of blow molding, have the potential to impact society just as much as the development of synthetic plastics and their associated processing methods have in the last century.

The researchers are using the new material to create tiny resonators for mircoelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and gyroscopes. However, to satisfy our high tech appetite, it's not surprising that companies like Apple are interested in these new types of metal to stay ahead of competitors.

Who can blame Apple for wanting to buy the patents for liquid metal? After all, advertising that the next amazing gadget is made out of liquid metal...is pretty sexy. Right?

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure