A set of stones from the British system of chess set ‘hardest’ of all, scientists say.
The new system, made by an international team led by the University of Sheffield, has been nicknamed ‘the Stone of Stone’.
This set of 12 stones from The Stone of Stones contains over 10,000 different pieces.
Researchers from the University have been studying how the stones of the system work to make sure they are stable, so that they do not break apart.
“This new set of pieces is a very high quality piece, made from a combination of pure stone and an aluminium alloy which has a good resistance to oxidation, so it has a high surface area, a good hardness, a low thermal conductivity, and good chemical resistance,” lead author, Professor Ian Brown said.
“We have to say it is harder than a gold or diamond.”
Professor Brown, a mathematician, and his colleagues were able to make the system using a method called “thermal conductivity” which involves a process called “dissolving” the material.
“Dissolving is basically using water to heat it up, so as the water evaporates the aluminium alloy expands,” Professor Brown explained.
“In this case the aluminium is so dense that it creates a big surface area of copper oxide, so we had to melt the copper to get a high temperature, which meant that it had to be heated to a temperature of over 1,000 degrees Celsius.”
“We also melted the metal down, but this has a very small surface area to it so it is not a big problem,” Professor Green added.
“The copper oxide has a low melting point, so you have to use a very fine metal powder to heat the copper oxide to the melting point of about 10,600 degrees Celsius, which is about 1,200 degrees Celsius above absolute zero.”
The team then coated the set with a very thin layer of gold.
“Once the gold was mixed, we were able actually to get the pieces to stick together,” Professor White said.
“We put the pieces together, and when they were fully connected we found that they were all very hard.”
Professor White says the new set is “quite tough”.
“It is quite hard, actually.
If you look at it on the scale of a diamond, you can’t tell it is a diamond,” he said.
Professor Brown said the new stones can be used to create complex designs for the computer game “Stone of Stone”.
“We could build these things on a computer, and you would get the computer to solve the puzzles, which were the puzzles of the game, and then we would take the pieces and we would put them together again,” he explained.
Professor White hopes the new system will lead to better designs for computer games.
“You could make these things in computers, because you could build things from the computer and they could be used in the real world,” he added.______