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News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Modern-day alchemists turn cement into metal

•, By Sebastian Anthony
 This metallic form of cement, which is electrically conductive and has increased corrosion resistance, might find applications in protective coatings, thin films (think LCD monitors), and computer chips.

Cement, which usually consists of calcium oxide and other common minerals such as silicon dioxide and aluminium oxide, is of course an insulator. To turn cement into a metal, the researchers heat the powder to 2,000 Celsius (3642F) with a laser, turning the powder into liquid. A fantastic device called an aerodynamic levitator, which uses nozzles pumping out inert gas to levitate a material, is then used to levitate the molten cement. The levitator prevents the molten cement from touching the walls of the container, preventing unwanted crystal formation. Different gases are introduced into the chamber to modify the chemical bonds that formed as the liquid cement cools into a glass.

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