Scientists computationally design new metastable, ultra-light crystalline form of aluminum
brian wang | September 22, 2017 |
If you restructure aluminum at the molecular level, as Boldyrev and colleagues did using computational modeling, you could produce an ultra-light crystalline form of aluminum that’s lighter than water. Boldyrev, along with scientists Iliya Getmanskii, Vitaliy Koval, Rusian Minyaev and Vladimir Minkin of Southern Federal University in Rostov-on Don, Russia.
Above there is an image from Chemists from Utah State University, USA and Southern Federal University, Russia, showing computationally designed a new, metastable, ultra-light crystalline form of aluminum. Credit: Iliya Getmanskii, Southern Federal University, Russia
“My colleagues’ approach to this challenge was very innovative,” says Boldyrev, professor in USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “They started with a known crystal lattice, in this case, a diamond, and substituted every carbon atom with an aluminum tetrahedron.”
The team’s calculations confirmed such a structure is a new, metastable, lightweight form of crystal aluminum. And to their amazement, it has a density of only 0.61 gram per cubic centimeter, in contrast to convention aluminum’s density of 2.7 grams per cubic centimeter.“That means the new crystallized form will float on water, which has a density of one gram per cubic centimeter,” Boldyrev says.
Such a property opens a whole new realm of possible applications for the non-magnetic, corrosive-resistant, abundant, relatively inexpensive and easy-to-produce metal