In the design of an aircraft, one must consider how the extreme heat of the launch and the extreme cold of space will affect the craft. Indeed, there are few materials that can withstand these temperature changes without deforming, making them very much in demand.
Now, a new team from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has developed a material that exhibits zero thermal expansion from 4 to 1,400K (-269 to 1126 °C, -452 to 2059 °F). Better yet, the material is also composed mostly of readily available elements.
It consists of scandium, aluminum, tungsten, and oxygen. Of these elements, only the scandium is rare and costly and the scientists are already looking for a better alternative.
Perhaps the greatest part about this discovery is that it was made completely by accident.
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