Researchers have developed a super-strong steel that acts more like glass -- and can be used to shield satellites from meteorites, drill through stubborn rock formations or bust through bad guys' underground liars.
The new new steel alloy can withstand pressure and stress of up to 12.5 giga-Pascals (equivalent to about 125,000 atmospheres of pressure) without a scratch, according to researchers at the University of California, San Diego and University of Southern California, who published their findings recently in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
In comparison, stainless steel has an limit of 0.2 giga-Pascals, while tungsten carbide (a high-strength ceramic used in military armor) is 4.5 giga-Pascals. Only diamonds are tougher, but not so practical for armor or anything else.
"Our material contains additional elements which are not in regular steel," said Olivia Graeve, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. "It has boron, tungsten, silicon, all of these elements allow the material to loose its crystalline structure and become an amorphous metal."