An international research team including researchers from Swinburne University has discovered a new material, superdense aluminium, which has never before been seen on Earth.
The new material is around 40 per cent stronger and denser than its conventional counterpart and is created by simulating the extremely high pressure conditions found at the centre of the Earth.
In a paper published in Nature Communications, the researchers from Australia, the USA and Japan, describe how the material can only exist under extreme pressure, similar to that found in our planet’s core.
“At extreme pressures and temperatures, such as those found in our Earth’s core, common materials form new dense phases with compacted atomic arrangements and unusual physical properties” said member Professor Saulius Juodkazis from Swinburne University of Technology
“Because we can’t physically see or sample materials from the extreme depths of the Earth, we need to come up with other ways to prove the existence of superdense materials. In this case, we replicated the high pressure conditions on a nano scale,” he said.
“By focusing single short laser pulses of light onto a sapphire we were able to induce a micro explosion within it. This process mimics the kind of seismic forces that have shaped the earth and other planets, melting and reforming materials under intense pressure, allowing us to synthesise the superdense aluminium material.”
The discovery could be used in nanostructured materials.
Professor Juodkazis said the experiment used standard bench-top lasers common in many research laboratories and manufacturing operations.