Scientists indulging their alchemist tendencies have turned cement into liquid metal - opening up a world of cheap new substances which could be used in consumer electronics.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) blasted mayenite, a component of alumina cement at 2,000 degrees.
This was then cooled into a glass-like state in such a way that it "trapped" electrons making the substance electronically conductive.
The process could be a big step forward in constructing a range of electronics
The resultant material is more resistant to corrosion, less brittle and more conductive than traditional materials.
Chris Benmore, a physicist from ANL, said: "This new material has lots of applications, including as thin-film resistors used in liquid-crystal displays, basically the flat panel computer monitor that you are probably reading this from at the moment.
"This phenomenon of trapping electrons and turning liquid cement into liquid metal was found recently, but not explained in detail until now.
“Now that we know the conditions needed to create trapped electrons in materials we can develop and test other materials to find out if we can make them conduct electricity in this way."
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