It seems like modern-day alchemy, but the process of turning cement into a glassy metal capable of conducting electricity is simple electron trapping!

Well, okay: It’s not that simple. In fact, I can’t pretend to understand how this has been achieved, but I know it involves lasers, and lasers are cool.

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Pew! Pew!

Scientists at the Illinois-based Argonne National Laboratory and the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute/SPring-8 have found a way to create metallic concrete by heating a concrete powder called mayenite to temperatures surpassing 3,600 degrees Fehrenheit using lasers, then using gas to suspend the substance in the air (keeping it from touching any surfaces in its container) and introducing a series of more gasses that modify the substance’s molecular bonds. This causes the substance to form tiny structural cages that trap electrons and allow for the free flow of electricity through the material.

In English, please?

Basically, they zapped some concrete powder, exposed it to funky gases and turned liquid cement into liquid metal.


Oh God! It's happening!

So what does this mean to us non-smartypants types? How about liquid crystal displays and computer chips that are damn-near indestructible?

Physicist Chris Benmore of the Argonne Laboratory states it more eloquently:

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.

I just wonder what OtterBox is going to do when we’re all walking around with superphones.