German researchers at the FLASH facility in Hamburg decided to roast a piece of aluminum foil with a 10-million-gigawatt X-ray laser. They heated the foil so hot that it became a new matter state: transparent aluminum. It's also believed to be the same state of matter that comprises the core of planets, such as Jupiter.
First reported in the Nature Physics journal, this new state, wherein X-ray photons can pass right through the metal, instead of being stopped as usual, can only last for a fraction of a nanosecond before burning up, and is attained by using the laser beam to knock an electron out of each aluminum ion, forcing the element to reconfigure into a new, tighter state.
This isn't the first time lasers have been used to manipulate metals--scientists recently shot up a metallic surface with a high-power laser blast to control the flow of water on the surface.
The researchers think the conditions of this aluminum are similar to that in giant planets, and they hope to use other lasers to study its properties.
[via New Scientist]
How useful is transparent aluminum foil if it takes a 10 million gigawatt laser to produce it, and it burns up in a nanosecond? What makes you think that matter at the center of planets is like that? Hot and dense? Duh. Where do all the disconnected electrons go? This article didn't give us readers enough information.
If you want a more detailed description about the process and applications go here:
That is where I read this same story two days ago.
I don't know if we will ever get the same kind of transparent aluminum like we have seen on Star Trek, but the closest I have found so far was called transparent alumina(which is aluminum oxide.
Here is a small description along with a picture that shows its not completely transparent.
How useful could this be?? well - I think that MANY things have come out of discoveries such as this. What if they're able to somehow stabilize this new substance by combining something in the process to capture those electrons, what if some other substance can be fused at this level and create a much more dense new metal? who knows! the fact is that this is the stuff that leads to major discoveries -
my 2cents -
from time to time - its ok to do it.
whats this now the 5th state of matter?
hmm lets see...
solid, liquid, gas, ionized, and transparant.