Can transparent metal be made?

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Offline neilep

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Can transparent metal be made?
« on: 19/04/2005 12:28:57 »
Is there such a thing as transparent metal ? Is it a thing which industry and the scientific community strive for ?

I think it would be a pretty cool thing to have.
« Last Edit: 22/03/2015 22:27:01 by chris »
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Offline daveshorts

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #1 on: 19/04/2005 12:47:30 »
I don't think any of the elemental metals are transparent or that any of their alloys are.

They do use something called Indium tin Oxide as contacts for LCD screens etc, as it is transparent and quite conductive ( a trillion tme worse than copper, but not bad all the same).

 I am sure that people are looking for better transparent conductors as although it doesn't matter much for screens where there isn't much current flowing, when you start building Solar cells which produce lots of current the losses must build up.

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #2 on: 19/04/2005 12:47:40 »
Glass comes close. It's a transparent metal oxide, mostly silicon dioxide, but has boron and other metallic oxides in it.

In their pure metallic phase, I doubt that a transparent metal can be made. Metals have conduction band electrons available, and will react with almost any wavelength of electromagnetic energy, from DC to gamma.
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Offline neilep

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #3 on: 19/04/2005 13:35:38 »
Thank you for your answers. I can imagine if ever transparent metal was realised it would have many potential uses.....errhmm !!!..can't think of any right now, but it could make flying a whole new experience.

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Offline DrPhil

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #4 on: 19/04/2005 15:17:18 »
It's a well known fact that Scotty gave the formula for transparent aluminum to Plexicorp way back in the 20th century. However, there's a huge glass manufacturer/government conspiracy in effect to prevent its development and use.
 

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Offline neilep

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #5 on: 19/04/2005 15:19:43 »
Yes, yes..you're right there Phil....he did didn't he ?...good old Scotty......

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Offline chris

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #6 on: 19/04/2005 15:53:08 »
What worries me more about that story is that even in 400 years time (when Star Trek is taking place) the Americans still haven't learned how to spell ALUMINIUM !!

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Offline DrPhil

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #7 on: 19/04/2005 17:05:10 »
What worries me is the false belief  that "aluminium" was the original spelling. It was "aluminum" before somebody went and added the extra i. Check your CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics 53rd ed., p. B-5
 

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Offline chris

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #8 on: 19/04/2005 17:28:12 »
...or COLOUR, FAVOUR, FAVOURITE, METER, CENTIMETER, LITER, NEIGHBOUR, or even HUMOUR...and judging by their president, the latter example's a necessity. Then again, at least his wife doesn't look like the wicked witch of the east. Cherie Blair has to be the most minging creature on the earth.

Richard Littlejohn in his Sun column has made a point of reminding readers, on a daily basis, how she took over 100,000 pounds from a children's cancer charity in 'speaking fees'. Amazing what some people will pay for crap these days - at those rates, what goes down my toilet could have more value than gold. It's certainly more interesting than Mrs. Blair.

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Offline neilep

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #9 on: 19/04/2005 17:31:39 »
quote:
Originally posted by chris

What worries me more about that story is that even in 400 years time (when Star Trek is taking place) the Americans still haven't learned how to spell ALUMINIUM !!

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
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....and how to pronounce it too !!

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Offline chimera

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #10 on: 20/04/2005 02:12:42 »
I thought the original spelling was bauxite. [:)]

Anyway, Napoleon had a huge set of cutlery made of it, pots and pans and all, worth millions at the time, since it was so rare.

But, as gsmollin rightly observed, metal has some properties that probably make it impossible to have it transparent and still be a metal proper.

Maybe it would be possible to make a mixture of glasslike substances and metal oxides to produce a hybrid 'glasteel'?
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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #11 on: 20/04/2005 02:14:14 »
Well, even though the metal was found in "alum" and there was that "ium" ending for all those metals, they didn't name it "alumium" for some reason either. Its good that the Americans had the sense to choose a name that wasn't a jawbreaker.
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Offline Quantum cat

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #12 on: 20/04/2005 03:37:40 »
We were taught that metals were always opaque and translucent (not sure if that's the right word) because of their free electrons and the way they reacted with incoming light, when we were learning about different bonds in chemistry.
 

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Offline ADD HAHAHA

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #13 on: 20/04/2005 03:42:17 »
put a hole in a metal sheet and you'll have what you are looking for [:D]
Drew Rody

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Offline DrPhil

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #14 on: 20/04/2005 13:53:47 »
quote:
Originally posted by gsmollin

Well, even though the metal was found in "alum" and there was that "ium" ending for all those metals, they didn't name it "alumium" for some reason either. Its good that the Americans had the sense to choose a name that wasn't a jawbreaker.

It was Sir Humphry Davy, an Englishman, who named the element "aluminum". The "ium" ending was adopted later.
 

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #15 on: 20/04/2005 15:41:27 »
The ancient Greeks and Romans used alum in medicine as an astringent, and as a mordant in dyeing. In 1761 de Morveau proposed the name alumine for the base in alum, and Lavoisier, 1n 1787, thought this to be the oxide of an undiscovered metal. Wohler is generally credited with isolating the metal in 1827, although an impure form was prepared by Oersted 2 years earlier. In 1807 Davy proposed the name alumium for the metal, and later agreed to change it to aluminum. Shortly thereafter, the name aluminium was adopted to conform with the "ium" ending of most elements, and this spelling is now in use in most parts of the world. Aluminium was also the accepted spelling in the United States until 1925, at which time the American Chemical Society officially decided to use the name aluminum thereafter in their publications.

Handbook of Chemistry and Physics 57th ed.
« Last Edit: 20/04/2005 15:46:18 by gsmollin »
"F = ma, E = mc^2, and you can't push a string."

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Offline chris

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #16 on: 20/04/2005 18:11:04 »
As I thought, our US colleagues did change it [;)]

Typical. They'll be spelling sulphur with an F next.

I wish I was an American - then, when I came across something really exciting I could exclaim how much 'epinephrine' the situation was causing my adrenal glands to secrete [:D]

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Offline DrPhil

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #17 on: 20/04/2005 19:27:53 »
The ACS just wanted to honor Sir Davy by using the word he coined... Aluminum. [:D]

To paraphrase another Englishman, Bill Shakespeare, "a rose by any other name..."
He obviously never visited the US.
 

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Offline Corbeille

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #18 on: 20/04/2005 21:03:55 »
Is "The Sun " a scientific journal?, its a good name for one.
Is Richard Littlejohn an erudite professor?

Is it read by very clever people?





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Offline chris

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #19 on: 21/04/2005 08:50:56 »
No No Yes

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #20 on: 21/04/2005 19:26:52 »
quote:
Originally posted by DrPhil

The ACS just wanted to honor Sir Davy by using the word he coined... Aluminum. [:D]

To paraphrase another Englishman, Bill Shakespeare, "a rose by any other name..."
He obviously never visited the US.



If that were true, then according to the short story in the CRC handbook, we would be calling it alumium. It is peculiar that the story goes "...he later agreed to change it to aluminum." It begs the question, who did he agree with? I'm guessing it was his graduate assistant, who gets no credit, of course. So the metal aluminum is named in honor of all graduate assistants who got no credit for their contributions to science. [8D]
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Offline Corbeille

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #21 on: 21/04/2005 21:20:50 »
Righty-ho old sprout!

I'm going to tell everybody that I am a "sun-reader" and soak up their admiration. They'll know that its full of balanced opinion and long words (is the crossword very difficult?) and is a bastion of liberal thought.

Hooray for England and saint George!

Gawd bless yer queen mother!

 Land of hope and glory - dum de dum de dum,
England thingy dum dum,
and Camilla too....

 Churchill and Diana,
We love Tony Blair,
He's your greatest war leader,
since that John majerrrrrrr.


can I come and live there?  I'm not an asylum seeker - honest!






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Offline DrPhil

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #22 on: 21/04/2005 22:33:47 »
quote:
Originally posted by gsmollin

...he later agreed to change it to aluminum." It begs the question, who did he agree with? I'm guessing it was his graduate assistant...
A footnote in my 1st edition CRC refers to an exchange student from Alabama named Al UmLmUm, et al. [:)]
 

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Offline Quantumcat

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #23 on: 26/04/2005 06:30:16 »
quote:
Originally posted by chris

...or COLOUR, FAVOUR, FAVOURITE, METER, CENTIMETER, LITER, NEIGHBOUR, or even HUMOUR...and judging by their president, the latter example's a necessity. Then again, at least his wife doesn't look like the wicked witch of the east. Cherie Blair has to be the most minging creature on the earth.

Richard Littlejohn in his Sun column has made a point of reminding readers, on a daily basis, how she took over 100,000 pounds from a children's cancer charity in 'speaking fees'. Amazing what some people will pay for crap these days - at those rates, what goes down my toilet could have more value than gold. It's certainly more interesting than Mrs. Blair.

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
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I believe that brits and aussies spell them, MTRE, LITRE and CENTIMETRE, but it's quite possible that I';m wrong!
 

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Offline moses lawn

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #24 on: 04/05/2005 07:42:57 »
Isn't gold leaf transparent?  Probably because it's beaten so very thin.
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Offline daveshorts

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #25 on: 04/05/2005 10:07:54 »
Yes you can see through very thin gold films becuase they are so thin. Interestingly when you look through a gold film it looks blue. This is because gold is yellow because it reflects red and green light better than blue, this means that if you look through the film what is left is blue light.

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Offline Varient

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #26 on: 10/05/2005 19:11:03 »
quote:
Originally posted by DrPhil

It's a well known fact that Scotty gave the formula for transparent aluminum to Plexicorp way back in the 20th century. However, there's a huge glass manufacturer/government conspiracy in effect to prevent its development and use.



?????
Scientific American came out with an article of a process that could change the properties of a metal so it could be thick and translucent to transparent,.... about ten years ago.


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Offline Varient

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #27 on: 10/05/2005 20:18:14 »
quote:
Originally posted by DrPhil

It's a well known fact that Scotty gave the formula for transparent aluminum to Plexicorp way back in the 20th century. However, there's a huge glass manufacturer/government conspiracy in effect to prevent its development and use.

August 23, 2004
transparent aluminum
newbielink:http://beverlytang.com/archives/materials/transparent_aluminum.html [nonactive]

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Offline daveshorts

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #28 on: 10/05/2005 20:23:49 »
Aaah that is not technically a metal, Aluminium oxide is a ceramic, and in fact what sapphire is made of. Cool though if they can make it cheaply - increadably good thermal conductivity at low temperatures because it is very stiff, so if you thermally wobble one end the whole thing wobbles.

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Offline chimera

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #29 on: 10/05/2005 20:37:41 »
quote:
Originally posted by daveshorts

 so if you thermally wobble one end the whole thing wobbles.



Got that first part, but here your subtitles went on the blink. Please illuminate us silly cloggies and other woodbrains... [:I]

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Offline daveshorts

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #30 on: 10/05/2005 20:57:11 »
Sorry

On a small scale heat is random movements, vibrations and rotations of the atoms and molecules of a substance.

In a gas the heat is transferred simply by the hot atoms(/molecules) actually moving about both by convection (where all the gas moves as hot gas is lighter) and by diffusion (where the hot atoms bounce around individually).

 In a solid the atoms can't move around so other ways of moving heat around dominate.

In metals the electrons are free to move around like the atoms in a gas, so they can transfer the heat around by diffusion

In a solid all the atoms will interact with one another like they are on springs, think of it like a slinkey spring with atoms attached to it. If you wobble one end a wave will move down the atoms and the other end will wobble. If the frequencies are low and everything is moving together we call this sound propagation. If the frequencies are much much higher and the movements are really random it is heat.

In an electrical insulator this is the main way heat is transported.

 If the material is not very stiff and very imperfect the vibrations move slowly and get reflected all over the place so heat doesn't travel very fast, however if you get a ver stiff crystal like sapphire or diamond the speed of sound is about 10km/s and in a good crystal especially at low temperatures (so there are no thermal imperfections) you can get thermal conductivities as good as if not better than copper.

This is why they want to make chip substrates out of diamond, as it is electrically insulating and a very good heat conductor.

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Offline chimera

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #31 on: 11/05/2005 07:35:05 »
Wow, subtitles worked overtime on that, but that's clear allright. Could you explain how it's possible that something can be both very rigid, crystals and lattice-like, and yet not be brittle, so the slightest vibration would damage it? Like high towers that have to give a bit in the wind, or snap? How's that work in a lattice without any lee-way, if you get my meaning?

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Offline daveshorts

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #32 on: 11/05/2005 08:53:19 »
Diamond and sapphire are probably fairly brittle, eg if you dropped them on a (very hard - as otherwise the surface will dent) surface they would crack rather than bend.

 However this doesn't stop them from being very very strong as if two stiff objects hit each other hard the accelerations are huge, hence the forces are enormous. So something that is very strong and will survive vibrations can still be brittle.

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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #33 on: 15/05/2005 22:23:13 »
Just harping back to the question of the name, did Davy pronounce it aloomium or alyoomium? I ask this because Americans pronounce their version aloominum whereas we brits say alyoominium. And, yes, we use METRE, LITRE etc. In England a meter is a device for measuring or taking your money when you wish to park your car (automobile to our transatlantic friends
It is also worth noting that American spellings are much closer to how the English spelled words in Shakespearian times although they would have been pronounced with a nice rural brogue rather than a harsh, nasal whine.
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Offline raid517

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #34 on: 21/05/2005 13:03:49 »
Hey, interesting topic. I remember thinking about this as a kid. Just out of curiosity, what are the electrically conductive qualities of something like leaded glass? Is it possible to significany improve the electrically conductive qualities of glass by say for example adding other kinds of metal oxides? How efficient can this be made - while still allowing the glass to remain transparrent?

GJ
 

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Offline abigail07

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Transparent metal ?
« Reply #35 on: 19/01/2010 05:32:03 »
Don't you think it is impossible to create transparent metal? I thought it was only on Star Trek that it is possible, I remember there was this scene about transparent metal. So, I did little research and found out that a perfect white metal at atmospheric pressure, on increasing pressure sodium first turns black, then red transparent, and eventually becomes a colorless transparent material.
« Last Edit: 16/07/2013 09:12:13 by CliffordK »

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Offline Grimbo

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Transparent metal ?
« Reply #36 on: 22/01/2010 15:47:37 »
check out this link
transparant ali and other cool stuff
newbielink:http://gajitz.com/meta/science/new-materials/ [nonactive]

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Offline MonoLithient

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #37 on: 01/09/2012 21:53:05 »
Maybe, a type of coating that refracts light in just the right way could be applied to make the metal appear invisible. This probably wouldn't work for a really complex shape though, but if you had a metal sheet or cylinder, sphere, etc., you might be able to refract light around it to make it appear invisible. This might actually better belong in a thread talking about light and refraction, but hey, this might for the bill for "invisible" or transparent metal.

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Offline damocles

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #38 on: 02/09/2012 00:39:24 »
No bulk electrical conductor can be transparent. A transparent surface conductor has been achieved with a very thin film of gold on glass.

I remember doing the theory in Physics 2, though I forget the detail. When light -- an electromagnetic wave -- meets a material that is a bulk electric conductor, the electric vector decays exponentially with depth in the conductor. This mandates that when light impinges on a metal surface, the metal is both opaque and reflective; the "boundary condition" for the wave equation for a vacuum/gas/transparent dielectric to conductor interface clearly shows that this must be the case. A layer of gold a few atoms thick (will attenuate light but not extinguish it) is apparently an important feature of aircraft windows.

On the other matter that has come up in this thread, the naming of elements, there are three elements that have slightly different names in North American/British English. On crossing the Atlantic, sulphur, aluminium, and caesium become sulfur, aluminum, and cesium.

Sometime around 1970, IUPAC debated the names of the elements. At that stage this organisation was very prescriptive. After a rather acrimonious session, the decision was made that the names should be sulfur, aluminium, and caesium (not sure about this last one). Basically the Brits would not wear sulfur and the Yanks would not wear aluminium. Eventually IUPAC backed off, and adopted a much less prescriptive policy, allowing for regional differences.

CRC Handbook is an American publication, and significantly biassed in its view of such questions: it is interesting that the original IUPAC committee decided that aluminium was the name that should be adopted.

Here in Oz (which should be the world standard) we are pretty much all decided on aluminium, and about 50/50 split between sulphur/sulfur and caesium/cesium.
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Offline CliffordK

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #39 on: 02/09/2012 02:29:31 »
Isn't gold leaf transparent?  Probably because it's beaten so very thin.

Good point that the Apollo Astronauts had gold plating on the visors of their helmets to reduce UV radiation.

Pure silicon (a metalloid), while it has limited light transmission in the visible spectrum, it is relatively transparent in the IR spectrum.

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Offline MonoLithient

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #40 on: 02/09/2012 04:20:10 »
Here, I think I've found what we've been looking for, a transparent aluminum:
newbielink:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_oxynitride [nonactive]

Quoting that article: "Aluminium oxynitride or AlON is a transparent polycrystalline ceramic with cubic spinel crystal structure composed of aluminium, oxygen and nitrogen. It is currently marketed under the name ALON by Surmet Corporation.[3] ALON is optically transparent (≥80%) in the near ultra violet, visible and near infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is 4 times harder than fused silica glass, 85% as hard as sapphire and nearly 15% harder than magnesium aluminate spinel. The material is stable up to 1,200 C (2,190 F).[1] It can be fabricated to transparent windows, plates, domes, rods, tubes and other forms using conventional ceramic powder processing techniques. Because of its relatively light weight, optical and mechanical properties, and its resistance to damage due to oxidation or radiation, it shows promise for use as infrared, high temperature and ballistic and blast resistant windows. Manufacturing methods continue to be refined. At US$10$15 per square inch the cost is currently (2005) higher than that of other ballistic resistant window materials."

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Offline MonoLithient

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #41 on: 02/09/2012 04:31:28 »
But I think someone before said that this isn't technically a metal, but a ceramic, so I guess it's not exactly the holy grail answer here.

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Offline damocles

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #42 on: 02/09/2012 05:55:06 »
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by gsmollin</i>

Well, even though the metal was found in "alum" and there was that "ium" ending for all those metals, they didn't name it "alumium" for some reason either. Its good that the Americans had the sense to choose a name that wasn't a jawbreaker.
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

It was Sir Humphry Davy, an Englishman, who named the element "aluminum". The "ium" ending was adopted later.

Well Sir Humphry Davy is hardly an authority on how to spell -- his family did not even know how to spell "Humphrey" [;D]

Seriously, though, there was no standardised English spelling until the mid 19th century, decades after aluminium had been named. And the pronunciation is not a mouthful on either side of the Atlantic:

"alla-MINNIE-um" or "al-you-MINNIE-um" versus "a-LOO-min-um" or "al-YOU-min-um".

I am thinking that many of you might not have realised that there were two quite distinct pronunciations on either side of the Atlantic, making four in total, and that none of them are particularly tongue-twisterish.
1 4 6 4 1
4 4 9 4 4     
a perfect perfect square square
6 9 6 9 6
4 4 9 4 4
1 4 6 4 1

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Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #43 on: 02/09/2012 13:10:51 »
Isn't gold leaf transparent?  Probably because it's beaten so very thin.
Yes, it is. Thin enough layers of metals are reasonably transparent.
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Offline ladybug2535

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #44 on: 20/03/2015 08:50:59 »
Sure this is an old thread but science lives forever!  No such thing as a stupid question and guess what--they've done it!  They've created transparent metal!  Albeit for just a few seconds, but--hey, TRANSPARENT METAL!!!!  Here's the link to an article explaining what they did and how they did it.  Better yet, it legitimizes the claim by providing information about the original article published in a peer-reviewed journal:  newbielink:http://phys.org/news167925273.html [nonactive]

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Offline chiralSPO

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #45 on: 20/03/2015 15:30:34 »
Taking a metal and subjecting it to extreme pressure or radiation has been shown to make the material transparent (as has been pointed out in this thread). But I think it is no longer actually metallic in that phase.

Metals are defined by their special electronic structure--orbitals (or bands) that extend throughout the entire material, allowing electrons (or holes) to move freely throughout, thus conducting electricity. Most common metals have electrons free to move in all 3 dimension "3D metals," but there are also materials that are only metallic in 2 dimensions (graphite) or one direction (sulfur nitride; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polythiazyl; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/%28SICI%291521-4095%28199812%2910:17%3C1415::AID-ADMA1415%3E3.0.CO;2-L/abstract).

A phase transition can disrupt the electronic structure. For instance graphite (2D metal) can turn to diamond, which is an excellent insulator. Tin exists in two major allotropes (phases) white tin (β tin) is a metal, with all of the charateristics one expects from a metal (conductive, reflective, malleable...), but grey tin (α tin) is a non-metal (poor conductor, not lustrous, brittle) which is structurally quite similar to diamond. Also hydrogen, which is typically not metallic can supposedly form a metallic phase under extreme pressures (we haven't been able to demonstrate it on Earth, but it is proposed that metallic hydrogen exists in Jupiter's core, and I think this is still considered the best explanation of the origin of Jupiter's magnetic field).

Why do I mention all of this? Compressing sodium or irradiating aluminum until they are transparent is just changing them to phases that are no longer metallic.

I'm pretty certain that it would be impossible for a metal to be transparent because a metal's ability to conduct so well allows it to absorb light extremely strongly. Really thin gold is transparent only because there is so little gold for the light to interact with.


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Offline David Cooper

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Re: Transparent metal ?
« Reply #46 on: 20/03/2015 18:08:24 »
Are any metals transparent to infra-red or ultra-viole(n)t light?

[On the side issue, I heard recently that alumium was the original word, so I've been using that for fun ever since.]