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High Purity Materials Designed For A Superhero

For those superhero fans out there who are tired of the antics of Iron Man and his Avenging colleagues, are not hung up on Spiderman, and fed up with straining to hear what Batman has to say, can I point you to a much more interesting comic book character?.. Element Lad, who led a very varied and interesting life in DC comics in the 30th Century – back in the 1970s - if you catch my drift.

This fully paid up member of the Legion of Superheroes (along with Superboy, and how that happened will take far too long to explain!) had the superpower to change any element from one ‘thing’ into another ‘thing’! 

Now I remember thinking that this was pretty impressive. Wow, any element you want! I mean, where would all our high tech industries and research organisations be without access to high purity metals?

The rare earth (lanthanide) metals, such as scandium, rubidium, rhenium, europium and cobalt, by themselves have a whole range of uses, especially as catalysts and in optoelectronics, that has seen them become much sort after. Element Lad must have been very popular in any number of important areas!

Of course, nowadays you just have to go to the Alfa Aesar catalogue and a whole universe of different high-purity metals and materials are available. And nearly all of them are at hand from stock, no matter what your application might be. With many different metals in continuous production, quantity is no problem either. Be it a bulk order, or something more restrained, there is actually no minimum order quantity.

This also means that for many of the suitable metals you will have a great choice of the form that your metal comes in. This might be a powder, a flake (powder with a flat regular shape), a granule, a sphere, a shot (spherical to semi-spherical), a splatter (pieces dropped onto a cold surface) or needles (elongated uniform pieces).

Or perhaps you might be taken by turnings, a sponge, mossy (drop your molten metal into water) or a good old-fashioned lump. Then there are pieces, cubes, sticks, bars, ingots and pellets, which are all reasonably self-explanatory. However, how about slugs, yarns (fibre strands), felts (compressed, fibrous, porous, fabric) and fibres? Then, in a different format entirely you can have a foil, thinfoil, ultrathin foil and microleaf plus a ribbon, disc and sputtering target. Not forgetting your plate, gauze, wire, rod or tube of course.

Now, as I remember, you never got that sort of choice with Element Lad!

Date added: 2012-09-27 15:42:43