Someday, digital citizens around the world may have a Yale professor to thank for the supercool, extra-durable case protecting their smartphones.
Jan Schroers, who teaches mechanical engineering and materials science, has created a thin, lightweight smartphone case that is harder than steel and as easy to shape as plastic. Schroers developed the technology for the cases in his Yale lab; now he’s ready for a partner to bring the product into mass production.
“This material is 50 times harder than plastic, nearly 10 times harder than aluminum and almost three times the hardness of steel,” Schroers said. “It’s awesome.”
For years, academic and commercial institutions have sought an effective technique for shaping these bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) — a new generation of strong-yet-pliable materials. Electronics casings, in particular, have been identified as a desirable application. Yet past attempts at finding a shaping process were unsuccessful.
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Yale engineering professor Jan Schroers holds several Yale patents through the Office of Cooperative Research (OCR) related to bulk metallic glasses and the process used to form them into responsive, more waterproof cell phone cases, as well as patents related to creating precise molds to make miniature parts for watches and sensors.
These patents, together with Schroers’ processing know-how, form the basis of his new startup, Supercool Metals.
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Yale News– Scientists at Yale University have devised a dramatically faster way of identifying and characterizing complex alloys known as bulk metallic glasses (BMGs), a versatile type of pliable glass that’s stronger than steel.
Using traditional methods, it usually takes a full day to identify a single metal alloy appropriate for making BMGs. The new method allows researchers to screen about 3,000 alloys per day and simultaneously ascertain certain properties, such as melting temperature and malleability.
“Instead of fishing with a single hook, we’re throwing a big net,” said Jan Schroers, senior author of the research, which was published online April 13 in the journal Nature Materials. “This should dramatically hasten the discovery of BMGs and new uses for them.”
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