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 July 24, 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 July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) — When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) — 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) — Commercial aircraft deliveries rose seven percent at Boeing, prompting the aerospace company to boost full-year profit guidance- though quarterly revenues missed analyst estimates. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
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