Another Victory for Pure Science February 22, 2011Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Science.
Dr Dominic Fortes of the University College London discovered that, when heated at room pressure, methanol monohydrate crystals would expand in one dimension but would shrink in the other two dimensions and would expand in two dimensions and shrink in one when heated (“negative linear compressibility”, in geekspeak). This is just the sort of material needed to make nanomachine switches, which is a pretty hot topic among the far-thinkers in the material science labs around the world who are going to create the miracles of tomorrow. There are just a few substances which can do this (fifteen is the last number I heard, but no sources cited, so…).
Dr. Fortes was studying the ice volcanoes on Triton, to explain the icy eruptions seen by passing spacecraft. See? Total blue-sky stuff pays off.
The full text is here, with lovely graphs and charts and science-y stuff that most people won’t bother with (me included).