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New ‘shape-shifting’ metal developed by US scientists

17 October 2013 No Comment

Scientists in the USA have developed a new form of shape-shifting metal, it has been announced.

The metal crystal can switch between different arrangements of atoms, allowing it to change shape up to 16,000 times and return to its original form after being heated and cooled.

shape shifting metal 1

A metal alloy with a crystalline structure

While this is not the first shape-memory metal to be developed, the fact that it can endure thousands of transformations without degrading makes it far stronger than those currently in use.

Known as a martensite, it is a metal alloy with a crystalline structure and has been made from a precise combination of gold, copper and zinc.

shape shifting metal 3

The new material has been developed by scientists at the University of Minnesota and was first reported in weekly science journal Nature.

Head of the research team, professor Richard D James, told the BBC that the new alloy could have a range of commercial uses, including in the manufacture of refrigerators, making quieter jet engines, creating automatic solar panels and developing greenhouse window-openers.

shape shfiting metal 4

Further advancements in the technology could make the transformations reversible, meaning the material could also be used for converting heat directly to electricity, for example using waste heat from electronic devices to automatically recharge their batteries.

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