sporkme has handed us a link to a New Scientist article. The piece outlines the development of a new substance reported to be stiffer than diamond. A team of scientists from Washington, Wisconsin, and Germany combined the ceramic barium titanate and white-hot molten tin with an ultrasonic probe. The new material was, in some tests, almost 10x more resistant to bending than diamond. Composite materials researcher Mark Spearing of Southampton University comments on the result: "The material's stiffness results from the properties of the barium titanate pieces, Spearing says. As the material cools, its crystal structure changes, causing its volume to expand. 'Because they are held inside the tin matrix, strain builds up inside the barium titanate,' Spearing explains, 'at a particular temperature that energy is released to oppose a bending force.'"
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