This week’s item is a recent Nature paper “Vitrification of a monatomic metallic liquid” by Bhatt et. al from Angell’s group at Arizona State (Nature 448, 787-790 (16 August 2007)).
It is accompanied by News and Views article “Metal turned to Glass”, which does a better job of placing these developments in historical and scientific context than I ever could.
But very basic summary is that under pressure pure Germanium appears to be capable of vitrification – or glassy state. Previously most metallic glasses were alloys, with two or typically more than 3 components. Directional bonding due to multi-component nature of the alloy always plays a role in these cases, so the search for a simple monatomic system capable of forming a glass has been undergoing since 1960ies.
The samples appear to be too small for x-ray diffraction analysis, it would be interesting to see if large enough samples can be produced – in Ge or other monatomic metals.