Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Weightlessness of space used to design better materials for Earth

Date:
May 29, 2013
Source:
Northeastern University College of Science
Summary:
Scientists are using the weightlessness of space to design stronger materials here on Earth.

Cellular array formed by the solid-liquid interface during a solidification experiment under microgravity conditions onboard the International Space Station (seen from the liquid). While the entire array oscillates with no global coherence at the scale of the system, locally ordered regions with hexagonal spatial ordering exhibit a sustained breathing mode oscillation of three sublattices of cells.
Credit: Image courtesy of Northeastern University College of Science

Researchers from Northeastern University are among the many scientists helping NASA use the weightlessness of space to design stronger materials here on Earth.

Structural alloys might not sound familiar, but they are an integral part of everyday materials, such as aircraft wings, car bodies, engine blocks, or gas pipelines. These materials are produced through solidification­ -- a process similar to the making of ice cubes. "Solidification happens all around us, either naturally, as during the crystallization of familiar snow-flakes in the atmosphere, or in technological processes used to fabricate a host of materials, from the large silicon crystals used for solar panels to the making of almost any human-made object or structure that needs to withstand large forces, like a turbine blade," said Northeastern University Prof. Alain Karma, who was a collaborator in this study.

The transition of a structural alloy from liquid to solid is morphologically unstable, meaning that the interface between solid and liquid evolves from a planar morphology to a non-planar cellular structure during solidification -- essentially, the same instability is responsible for the branched star shape of snow flakes.

But what if you could take gravity out of the mix? Researchers say by observing the solidification process in a microgravity environment -- in this case, the International Space Station -- they were able to study how this morphological instability develops in three dimensions to shape the structure of materials on a micron scale. "Without gravity, there is no buoyancy force to mix the atomic constituents in the melt by fluid flow," said Prof. Karma. "As a result, solidification creates unique, more organized, structures that cannot be observed on earth. Understanding how those structures form in space gives insight for designing lighter and stronger materials that can be made on earth."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northeastern University College of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northeastern University College of Science. "Weightlessness of space used to design better materials for Earth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130529133505.htm>.
Northeastern University College of Science. (2013, May 29). Weightlessness of space used to design better materials for Earth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130529133505.htm
Northeastern University College of Science. "Weightlessness of space used to design better materials for Earth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130529133505.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) — British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 30, 2014) — Fresh breath and clean teeth are great, but have you ever thought, "my toothpaste could be doing more". Well, it can! Lots of things! Howdini has 7 new uses for this household staple. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) — A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) — Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins