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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 19 2017, @11:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the seeing-is-believing dept.

DESY, the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron research center, has created a transparent, extremely hard ceramic.

Scientists have synthesised the first transparent sample of a popular industrial ceramic at DESY. The result is a super-hard window made of cubic silicon nitride that can potentially be used under extreme conditions like in engines, as the Japanese-German team writes in the journal Scientific Reports. Cubic silicon nitride (c-Si3N4) forms under high pressure and is the second hardest transparent nanoceramic after diamond but can withstand substantially higher temperatures.

"Silicon nitride is a very popular ceramic in industry," explains lead author Dr. Norimasa Nishiyama from DESY who now is an associate professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology. "It is mainly used for ball bearings, cutting tools and engine parts in automotive and aircraft industry." The ceramic is extremely stable, because the silicon nitrogen bond is very strong. At ambient pressures, silicon nitride has a hexagonal crystal structure and sintered ceramic of this phase is opaque. Sintering is the process of forming macroscopic structures from grain material using heat and pressure. The technique is widely used in industry for a broad range of products from ceramic bearings to artificial teeth.

At pressures above 130 thousand times the atmospheric pressure, silicon nitride transforms into a crystal structure with cubic symmetry that experts call spinel-type in reference to the structure of a popular gemstone. Artificial spinel (MgAl2O4) is widely used as transparent ceramic in industry. "The cubic phase of silicon nitride was first synthesised by a research group at Technical University of Darmstadt in 1999, but knowledge of this material is very limited," says Nishiyama. His team used a large volume press (LVP) at DESY to expose hexagonal silicon nitride to high pressures and temperatures. At approximately 156 thousand times the atmospheric pressure (15.6 gigapascals) and a temperature of 1800 degrees Celsius a transparent piece of cubic silicon nitride formed with a diameter of about two millimetres. "It is the first transparent sample of this material," emphasises Nishiyama.

It's no transparent aluminum, but it'll do.


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  • (Score: 2, Funny) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday March 19 2017, @11:48AM (2 children)

    I'm not buying it. If Grandma has an Administrator account, no amount of hardening is going to help.

    --
    Save Ferris!
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @12:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @12:01PM (#481110)

      I believe it relates to ease of use and to stomach.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @01:38PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @01:38PM (#481130)

      the m$ ceramic brick house with 10 windows already is totally transparent to all your privacy.
      it soo transparent you don't even need windows anymore.

      as the for the "hardening" effect is is mostly to harden the grip on the market and to turn your regular jell-o like brain into a solid hardened mass of stupidity : )

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @02:05PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @02:05PM (#481135)

    At approximately 156,000 times the atmospheric pressure (15.6 gigapascals) and a temperature of 1800 degrees Celsius a transparent piece of cubic silicon nitride formed with a diameter of about two millimetres. "It is the first transparent sample of this material," emphasises Nishiyama.

    It looks like mass-production would require a very large amount of power. It usually is the case where large technological leaps require or are driven by advances in power-production or concentration technology: horse, steam, hydraulic, electricity, et al.

    Transparent aluminiu^W ceramics with nuclear power of some flavor, or stagnation (eventual collapse) with hippy-hugger wind/solar farms. Pick one.

    • (Score: 2) by fishybell on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:28PM

      by fishybell (3156) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:28PM (#481167)

      If you look at the sample the created, this is totally ready for prime time...for ants.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by mhajicek on Sunday March 19 2017, @05:36PM

      by mhajicek (51) on Sunday March 19 2017, @05:36PM (#481208)

      Transparent aluminum would be aluminum oxide, which is already in use for windows on armored vehicles.

    • (Score: 2) by ledow on Monday March 20 2017, @08:37AM

      by ledow (5567) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 20 2017, @08:37AM (#481404) Homepage

      I have no concept of the numbers, so I went looking for things using those kinds of pressures:

      "The researchers noted that the material underwent a structural transition at 16 gigapascal (GPa)—near the pressure needed to commercially synthesize diamond—followed by a volume collapse at 30 GPa"

      If 16GPa is already LESS than the pressure to synthesize diamond, and the temperature is about twice that of a kiln using for glass manufacturer anyway, it's not extraordinarily industrial a process compared to that which happens every day.

      And, likely, if they commercialise it, the pressures will be increased and the temperature decreases (a kind Boyle's law for solids?) and temperature if the thing that costs to maintain. Enormous pressure can be applied by the right materials and a hand-crank, so it's likely not the big energy usage there.

      And if we're talking about creating glass from ceramics, likely it will be no more energy-costing that either glass or ceramic, but able to do both jobs.

      And let's not forget - likely the transport of raw and finished materials will wipe out manufacturing costs in such respects.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20 2017, @02:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20 2017, @02:56PM (#481518)

      the say at the end of the article they can currently make a window a maxim size of 5 mm

      ... so not usefull for actual house/car/plain windows atm

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @02:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @02:39PM (#481145)

    Listening to the news this morning, there was a discussion of the requirements for "Trump's Wall". As well as height (18 - 30 feet tall) there was also a request from border patrol for a transparent wall...so they can see what is happening on the other side.

    I see a match made in heaven, at least for the manufacturers of the massive presses required to make cubic silicon nitride!
    Quick, invest now!!

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:08PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:08PM (#481151)

    I expect the uptake will be quick among manufacturers of mobile phones.

    • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Monday March 20 2017, @09:42PM

      by darkfeline (1030) on Monday March 20 2017, @09:42PM (#481798) Homepage

      Hard == brittle. You don't want a brittle screen on your phone. It'll resist all scratches, but shatter if you look at it funny.

  • (Score: 1) by cpghost on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:28PM (2 children)

    by cpghost (4591) on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:28PM (#481165) Homepage

    Now the famous Glass Ceiling [wikipedia.org] has become even harder to break through...

    --
    Cordula's Web. http://www.cordula.ws/
    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @09:38PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @09:38PM (#481264)

      I hear that many people were upset that America supposedly just wouldn't vote for a woman. (America is so sexist) Those same people will all come out to vote for Sarah Palin, right?

      • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20 2017, @01:29AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20 2017, @01:29AM (#481312)

        In reviewing the week, CounterPunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair noted [counterpunch.org]

        The most edifying takeaway from Trump’s big interview with Tucker Carlson on FoxNews this week concerned his reading habits, which weigh-in at about half-a-Palin. Of course, he’d read a little more, if he didn’t have to spend all day making America tremendously great again:

        Tucker Carlson: What do you do at the end of the day? What do you read, what do you watch...

        Donald Trump: Well, you know, I love to read. Actually, I’m looking at a book, I’m reading a book, I’m trying to get started. Every time I do about half a page, I get a phone call that there’s some emergency, this or that. But we’re going to see the home of Andrew Jackson today in Tennessee and I’m reading a book on Andrew Jackson. I love to read. I don’t get to read very much, Tucker, because I’m working very hard on lots of different things, including getting costs down. The costs of managing our country are out of control. But we have a lot of great things happening, we have a lot of tremendous things happening.

        -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

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