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Author Topic: Did Scotty have the right idea?  (Read 2761 times)

Offline CliffordK

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Did Scotty have the right idea?
« on: 31/07/2011 07:12:05 »
In Star Trek, the Journey Home, Scotty invented "Transparent Aluminum".

Of course, it never was well defined.

There are two materials that could be candidates:

Synthetic sapphire, of the formula Al2O3 has been around since 1902.  It can be grown into crystals, of 30 or 40cm in diameter, and is exceptionally strong.  It would be difficult to grow pieces large enough to make whale tanks, and the density is about 4g/cc, somewhat heavier than many people might have imagined. 

Another candidate that is hitting the market is Aluminium oxynitride (AlON).  A new ceramic with the formula: (AlN)x·(Al2O3)1-x.  It is slightly lighter than sapphire with a density of 3.69g/cc.  Being a ceramic rather than a crystal, it apparently is easier to form in larger sheets than synthetic sapphire.  Otherwise, it shares many strength and durability characteristics with sapphire.  It is being evaluated for use as a bullet-proof glass, and relatively thin sheets can stop relatively large caliber rounds.  Of course, at about $20,000/m2, it may not be rapidly adopted for use outside of the military.

Anyway, both of these have higher density than aluminum (2.7 g/cc) and plexiglass (about 1.2 g/cc).  However, it might make up for the difference with the extraordinary strength and heat resistance.

The Space Shuttle used Aluminum Silicate windows: Al2(SiO[sub3[/sub])3 with a density of 2.8 or 2.9, as a composite with fused silica (quartz).  This is a lower density than the above, but not quite as strong.  Apparently some of the windows were as thick as 3.5" thick.

What will be next with synthetic transparent materials?

Perhaps a composite with Aluminium oxynitride for the outer layer, and silica aerogel in a middle layer.
« Last Edit: 31/07/2011 07:25:17 by CliffordK »


 

Offline RD

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Did Scotty have the right idea?
« Reply #1 on: 31/07/2011 09:02:04 »
What will be next with synthetic transparent materials?

Piercings  ...



http://boingboing.net/2010/01/27/clear-lens-face-pier.html

[any resemblance to a dental mirror may not be coincidental]
« Last Edit: 31/07/2011 09:21:13 by RD »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Did Scotty have the right idea?
« Reply #2 on: 31/07/2011 18:59:44 »
I think I'll skip that one.
Everyone says to chew with one's mouth closed...  I don't think I need to see inside of someone's mouth when they're eating  [xx(]
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Did Scotty have the right idea?
« Reply #2 on: 31/07/2011 18:59:44 »

 

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