Captain, There Be Whales!: Scotty’s Clear Aluminum Now Available
May 26, 2012 Leave a comment
Thanks to MakeZine for beating me to the Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home reference, but transparent aluminum, which is foreshadowed by the sweet, and inimitable Jimmy Doohan is now a reality.
During the classic “Hello, Computer” scene where Scotty and Bones barter technology for transparent aluminum for some lexan walls in order to take transport a couple of whales in a Klingon Bird of Prey. A pretty prototypical plot for a mid-80′s rom-com. Anyway, the new material, which is in reality aluminum oxynitride (ALON), compressed to 15,000 PSI then heated to 2000o C for a couple days, has been researched since the early 80′s (and could be the inspiration behind the iconic scene involving Scotty and a MacPlus). Massachusetts’ Surmet Corporation is bringing the material to market with mostly military and defense contract applications, including bullet proof glass. ALON is still very expensive, which limits it almost exclusively to military applications, but as the price comes down to compete with lexan we could see ALON start to bite that market.