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Alloys

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Alloys = Allies
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Why are alloys useful?

Credit: Anthony Quintano
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_New_York_City_skyline_after_a_stormy_afternoon_from_Port_Imperial,_NY_Waterway_in_Weehawken_New_Jersey.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

[Figure1]

The New York skyline wouldn't exist if it we didn't have alloys.  We may not think about it, but we cannot live with alloys.  We use alloys in our buildings, cars, toasters, jewelry, tennis racquets and more.  Alloys are a mixture of one metal with another element, often another metal.  This mixture is often stronger and has other more desirable properties than either of the constituent elements.  Some common alloys are steel, bronze and brass.

Creative Applications

  1. How is it possible for an alloy to have such different properties than either of its constituent elements? (Hint- Consider the new bonding that happens, and how the molecules are arranged.)
  2. Probably the best known alloy is steel.  It is used, among other things, in skyscrapers, cars, watches and stadiums.  What are its components?  How does changing the ratio affect the properties of steel?
  3. We all love gold.  We use it for jewelry, money and decorations.  But often, we don’t use pure gold because of its cost or because pure gold is very soft.  What is gold typically alloyed with to strengthen it? What system measures how pure gold is?

Resources:

http://jewelry.about.com/od/jewelrymetals/a/gold_jewelry.htm

http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/gold-penn

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