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Top Story

Liquid-to-glass transition process gains clarity

These days, metallic glasses -- made entirely of metal atoms -- are being developed for biomedical applications such as extra-sharp surgical needles, stents, artificial joints and implants because various alloys can be ultra-hard, extra-strong, very smooth and resistant to corrosion. However, while a combination of trial and error and scientific research has helped refine glassmaking processes over time, at the atomic level, controlling the creation of metallic glasses remains an inexact endeavor, informed largely by long experience and intuition. A team of scientists has made significant experimental strides in understanding how, when and where the constantly moving atoms in molten metal "lock" into place as the material transitions from liquid to solid glass. This knowledge could add much-needed experimental clarity to several competing theories about how that process, called glass transition, occurs. Ultimately it also could help reduce time and costs associated with developing new metallic glass materials, and provide manufacturers greater insight into process design.

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