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ScienceDaily (July 27, 2009) — Oxford scientists have created a transparent form of aluminium by bombarding the metal with the world’s most powerful soft X-ray laser. ‘Transparent aluminium’ previously only existed in science fiction, featuring in the movie Star Trek IV, but the real material is an exotic new state of matter with implications for planetary science and nuclear fusion.
knocked out’ a core electron from every aluminium atom in a sample without disrupting the metal’s crystalline st
Professor Wark added: ‘What is particularly remarkable about our experiment is that we have turned ordinary aluminium into this exotic new material in a single step by using this very powerful laser. For a brief period the sample looks and behaves in every way like a new form of matter. In certain respects, the way it reacts is as though we had changed every aluminium atom into silicon: it’s almost as surprising as finding that you can turn lead into gold with light!’
However, as the researchers found, element sodium does just the opposite. A perfect white metal at atmospheric pressure, on increasing pressure sodium first turns black, then (at the pressure of 2 million atmospheres) red transparent, and eventually becomes a colorless transparent material – just like glass.