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Ceramic Shrinks When the Heat Goes On

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Science  05 Apr 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5258, pp. 30
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5258.30


It's hard to break the laws of physics, but sometimes one can bend the rules. Take the well-founded principle that more heat means more size: Added energy—heat—usually causes atoms to swing around more violently, taking up more space and causing materials to expand. But on page90 of this issue, a group of researchers describe a ceramic that's found a huge loophole in the rule: It steadily shrinks as the temperature rises over 1000 degrees. The slimming secret, the scientists say, is in the material's zirconium-tungsten-oxygen lattice.