Late last month the consumer tech world buzzed with speculation that the next iphone would be covered in a substance referred to as "Liquidmetal." The type of material they refer to is known in the research community as "metallic glass," or "amorphous" metal. The material is made from atoms of familiar metals -- that's what makes it metallic -- but, like glass, they are not arranged into the typical crystalline structure -- that's what makes it amorphous, or "disordered on the atomic scale." Metallic glasses are poorly understood, and are generally created by extremely rapid cooling of molten metal. This week, in a paper published in Physics Review Letters, researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, examine the unique atomic structure of metallic glasses. In particular, they report on crystal-like "clusters" of atoms that group together at the nanometer scale.
University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA