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Incredible Shrinking Ceramic

By Fred GuterlJanuary 1, 1997 6:00 AM


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Most materials expand when heated, often to the chagrin of engineers. Last April, Arthur Sleight of Oregon State University in Corvallis and his colleagues announced that they had found a ceramic called zirconium tungstate that shrinks as its temperature rises. The material is made up of zirconium and tungsten atoms connected by oxygen atoms, which, when heated, bend like elbow joints. The atoms pull closer together, causing the structure to contract.

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