Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hard, Slippery and Mysterious

Scientists discover a new material.

The "ceramic alloy" is created by combining a metal alloy of boron, aluminium and magnesium (AlMgB14) with titanium boride (TiB2). It is the hardest material after diamond and cubic boron nitride.

BAM, as the material is much slipperier than Teflon, with a coefficient of friction of .02 compared to .05. Lubricated steel has a friction coefficient of 0.16.

As you can imagine, this has lots of potential uses.

One way to exploit this slipperiness is to coat the rotor blades in everyday pumps used in everything from heating systems to aircraft....

BAM is also potentially attractive as a hard coating for drill bits and other cutting tools. Diamond is commonly used for this, and is harder, but it reacts chemically with steel and so degrades relatively quickly when used to cut the metal. By contrast, BAM is cheaper and does not degrade when used with steel.

A commenter added no-wear non-stick pans and no-oil engines. The material is a bit of a puzzle.

The exact reason for the new material's characteristics is still unclear.......Its slipperiness is also not entirely understood.

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