It’s like something from a graphic novel with superheroes. The material’s atoms can’t settle down. The result is a metastable material with unusual properties. Scientists at the Energy Frontier Research in Extreme Environments (EFree) built such a material: titanium pernitride. It’s nearly as hard as diamonds, it conducts electricity, and it could change our view of explosives. At the Center for Next Generation of Materials by Design: Incorporating Metastability (CNGMD), researchers reconfigured tin and nitrogen atoms. The resulting structure easily loses electrons when light strikes and could change how we build solar panels, making them more durable and efficient. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory leads the CNGMD. The Carnegie Institution of Washington leads EFree. Both centers are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
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