Researchers Transform Cement to Semiconductor


The scientists seem to have stumbled upon the equivalent of philosopher’s stone for the electronic industry. They have found a way to transform liquid cement into liquid metal, making cement a semi conductor that can be used for manufacturing various electronic components, protective coatings and films.

The research conducted by a multinational team comprised of researchers from Finland, Germany, Japan and United States have found how cement exhibits the electron trapping phenomena to undergo transformation into metallic-glass form. Until now, only metals were known to exhibit this transition.

Until recently, only ammonia solutions were known to exhibit the electron trapping phenomena, and during this research they have figured out the exact conditions required to trap electrons in materials and it was tested on mayenite, a material found in alumina cement composed of aluminium and calcium oxides.

Mayenite is melted at 2000oC using an aerodynamic levitator with carbon dioxide laser beam and processed in different atmospheres in order to control the way oxygen bonds in the resulting glass. The aerodynamic levitator allows the hot liquid formed to cool into a glassy state, trapping electrons to facilitate electronic conduction by preventing it from crystallizing after coming into contact with the container walls.

Trapping free electrons in cage like structures formed in the glass ensures conductivity by the mechanism similar to the one observed in metals. The metal-glass material thus formed have better corrosion resistance, conductivity and low energy losses in magnetic field than the traditional metals, and it can also be processed and molded easily, making them ideal for thin film resistors and other electronic components. More details are available in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

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