Extremes

Get the Slick Facts about BAM — the World’s Slipperiest Substance


BAM world's slipperiest substance

Some scientific discoveries are pretty slick. Others are really slick. When it comes to the accidental discovery of BAM, it goes beyond slickness; it is downright slippery.

Scientists stumbled across the greatest nonstick material in the world entirely by accident. It was 1999 when researchers at the US Department of Energy Ames Laboratory in Iowa combined boron, aluminum, and magnesium with titanium boride. They were attempting to create an electricity-producing substance. What they got was BAM — a superhard substance that is so slippery that it makes Teflon look like velcro.

The material has a coefficient of friction of less than half that of Teflon. the previous record holding material of Teflon. Where Teflon has a coefficient of friction of 0.05, BAM maintains an incredible 0.02. By way of comparison, steel has a frictional coefficient of 0.16.

When Teflon was discovered, it was heralded as the greatest nonstick material ever.

BAM gets its name from its three primary ingredients — boron, aluminum, and magnesium. Its qualities not only make it incredibly slick, but it one of the hardest substances on the planet.

The new material can be applied as a micro-thin coating to many different surfaces which provide the energy and longevity benefits that BAM maintains. According to Bruce Cook, lead investigator on the Ames Lab project, he estimates BAM could save US industry alone 330 trillion kilojoules (9 billion kilowatt-hours) every year by 2030 – translating into about $179 million of savings a year.


Read more fun facts about technology.

Read about these extreme examples.

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