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...a glass is any material that can be cooled from aliquid to a solid without crystallizing. Most metals docrystallize as they cool, arranging their atoms into a highlyregular spatial pattern called a lattice. But if crystallizationdoes not occur, and the atoms settle into a nearly randomarrangement, the final form is a metallic glass.
Window glass possesses this same random atomic arrangement,although it is not metallic. Unlike window panes, metallicglasses are not transparent, yet their unusual atomic structuregives them distinctive mechanical and magnetic properties. Unlike window glass, metallic glass is not brittle. Many traditionalmetals are relatively easy to "deform," or bend permanently outof shape, because their crystal lattices are riddled withdefects. A metallic glass, in contrast, will spring back to itsoriginal shape much more readily.
"If you rank materials for how springy they are, metallic glassesare off the chart," says Hufnagel, an assistant professor ofmaterials science and engineering. "They're far and away betterthan anything else out there."
The new metallic glass may also have military applications as armor-piercingprojectiles. Unlike most crystalline metal projectiles, whichflatten into a mushroom shape upon impact, Hufnagel believes thesides of a metallic glass head will sheer away on impact,essentially sharpening the point and providing more effectivepenetration.