Researchers at the University of Rochester, funded by the US Air Force's Scientific Research Agency, are using laser technology to help the military create a new metal that can absorb heat and radiation, avoid liquids, and cool small electronic devices.
Dr. Chunlei Guo and his team at the University of Rochester used an incredible laser to make a glowing metal strip into a lacquered black metal. The manufactured ferrous metal can absorb all the radiation emitted by the laser , can absorb high heat, and can even "drive away" liquids.
Dr. Guo Chunlei said, "As a new material, this ferrous metal will open up a whole new perspective for various military applications." According to reports, the key to making this ferrous metal is a super short, super intense beam called Femtosecond laser pulse. This laser pulse lasts only a few tenths of a billionth of a second. The strong explosive force forces the surface of the metal to form nanostructures and microstructures, which dramatically changes the way light is emitted from metal fibers, thus changing the metal strip structure.
In addition to increasing the brightness of the laser emitting device, Dr. Guo's experiments can also adjust the color of the metal produced by the laser . His research team used similar steps to turn almost all metals into blue, gold, and gray, except for black. They control the size and shape of the nanostructures, and thus the color of the light absorbed and emitted by those structures, to change the amount of each wavelength of light emitted by the metal fibers.
In addition, Dr. Guo and his team have been working on technologies to create other types of metals for the Air Force. They were again able to use femtosecond lasers to alter the surface of metals, creating unique nano- and micro-scale structures on metals. Dr. Guo said, "During a brief burst, the laser released the equivalent of the entire North American power grid, and they focused on a point the size of a needle tip."
The unique nanostructure created by the laser affects the interaction between liquid molecules and metal molecules. Nanostructures attach themselves to liquid molecules more quickly than liquid molecules can attach to each other, so liquid molecules spread out on the metal surface. The end result is a new type of metal that cools the aircraft's computer and heat pump crews, allowing the aircraft to maintain an advantage when confronting any enemy in flight.
At present, researchers only need to change the metal surface in about half an hour (about 0.25 inches in size, 1 yuan in size). However, their next goal is to make this ferrous metal in less time to meet the increasing demand for military combat.