Sunday, October 23, 2005

transparent aluminum

OK, I admit it, I'm behind the power curve again, or at least behind the news. (You know you're behind the news curve when you don't find out about tech developments till they show up in comics.)

In any case, the military is now testing a transparent aluminum compound for use as an armor. You can find a picture here. The compound is actually Aluminum Oxynitride. I've repressed enough of my analytical chemistry that I can't give you the chemical formula, but the summary is that it's a scratch-resistant ceramic that can replace window glass in armored vehicles. You can find details in this Air Force article.

I'd be very interested in knowing more about the mechanical properties of this material. Right now, the canopies for light aircraft are often made of plexiglass or similar plastics. They're light and resist shattering, but they tend to accumulate scratches. A scratch-resistant canopy would be a great feature.

2 comments:

John Galt said...

Ha Ha, not to make light of your post but I thought we got the formula back in 86 from Scotty when he needed a stronger glass for the whale tank?

False Data said...

As if... There's no way Scotty could've gotten his hands on transparent aluminum that quickly. Manufacturers can't retool that fast even with the whole manufacturing process dropped in their laps. No, my friend, Scotty just traded the transparent aluminum formula for several panels of existing plexiglass stock. Apparently it's taken them 20 years to figure out how to make it.

Or maybe Scotty's a blazingly fast typist but still writes about as clearly as the rest of us engineers.