By David Ponce
Well, not quite. But a team of researchers led by professor Hideo Hono of the Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a cement mixture that transmits electricity. Its conductivity is comparable to that of Manganese, and the researchers achieved this feat by altering the crystal structure at the nano level:
Ordinary alumina cement made from a lime-alumina compound (C12A7) has a crystal structure consisting of asymmetric cages, making it a poor conductor of electricity. But by sealing the alumina cement compound along with titanium inside a glass tube and heating it to 1,100 degrees Celsius, the researchers were able to create a homogenized, symmetrical cage structure that conducts electricity like metal.
But why should we gadget geeks care? Well, among the bunch of perfectly valid applications (heated sidewalk, anyone?), there’s the fact that when stretched into a thin membrane, the new cement is nearly transparent, making it an ideal substitute material for rare metals such as indium, which is used in plasma and liquid-crystal displays.
This material is still in the research stage of course, so it may be quite some time (if ever) before it finds its way into our home electronics.