This Material Wouldn’t Melt, Even at the Center of the Earth

Researchers have discovered a material that could break the record for the highest melting point of any substance.

A team of Brown University engineers found that a combination of hafnium, nitrogen, and carbon, in just the right amounts, could withstand 4,400 kelvins, or around 7,460 degrees Fahrenheit. To give you an idea, that’s two-thirds the temperature of the sun’s surface. Theouter core of the Earth can hit 4,300 kelvins, for further mind-blowing reference.

The team figured this out through a series of computer simulations that “[infer] melting points by simulating physical processes at the atomic level.” The results were published in the journalPhysical Review B.

This Material Wouldn't Melt, Even at the Center of the Earth

Possible uses — other than a ship that bores into the Earth’s core — include high performance heat shields.

According to a release from Brown:

The work could ultimately point toward new high-performance materials for a variety of uses, from plating for gas turbines to heat shields on high-speed aircraft. But whether the HfN0.38C0.51 compound itself will be a useful material isn’t clear.

The next step, which scientists are already tackling: Actually synthesizing the material and experimenting in a lab. Journey to the center of the Earth TBD.

source: gizmodo.com by Bryan Lufkin

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