Synthesizing Tetra-Tenite: A Meteoric Breakthrough in Technology
In the quest for alternatives to rare earth metals – crucial components in modern technology – scientists have turned their attention to tetra-tenite. This rare alloy, initially discovered in a meteorite, could revolutionize electronics and modern tech production, potentially offering a sustainable substitute for rare earth metals. Researchers have achieved the feat of artificially synthesizing this unique metal.
On June 27, 1966, a meteorite weighing 113.4 kg streaked across the sky above Saint-Séverin, France, eventually crashing to the ground and leaving behind a crater approximately 61 cm deep and 76 cm wide. Scientists from the National Museum of Natural History in France (NMNH) identified a rare metal within this meteorite – tetra-tenite.
Tetra-tenite is a metal with a tetragonal structure, composed of tenite, a nickel-iron alloy. Its properties closely resemble those of rare earth metals used in creating powerful magnets for consumer electronics, electric vehicles, military technology, and renewable energy systems. “Rare earth metals are vital to critical industrial and technological sectors. They are key components for computing and all emerging technologies that fuel or support the energy transition,” stated Ariel Cohen, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council.
In 2022, a team led by Lindsay Greer at the University of Cambridge announced the synthesis of tetra-tenite from iron and nickel, two of the most abundant metals on Earth. This artificially created metal has the potential to replace rare earth metals like neodymium and praseodymium in the future.
Almost simultaneously, engineers at Northeastern University (NEU) in Boston also introduced their method of producing tetra-tenite. Led by Dr. Laura Lewis, a professor of chemical engineering, their approach was similar to Greer’s, with one distinction: during the cooling process of the molten mixture, Lewis’ team applied “existential strain,” allowing atoms to form the tetragonal structures characteristic of tetra-tenite.
The demand for rare earth metals is growing, and their extraction is limited to a few locations worldwide, fraught with environmental risks. China controls 70% of global rare earth metal production and has threatened to cut off supplies to unfriendly nations.
Thanks to the efforts of researchers who have synthesized tetra-tenite, this metal could provide a genuine alternative to rare earth metals, offering an environmentally friendly solution. Lewis emphasized, “It’s more than just scarcity. Because the methods needed to process mined ore are really environmentally hazardous, I would say even toxic.”
Industrial-scale production of tetra-tenite remains a complex challenge that scientists are still trying to overcome. Despite significant successes in lab conditions, current research groups, including Greer’s and Lewis’ teams, can only produce microscopic quantities of this unique metal. Greer looks to the future with optimism but acknowledges that the path from laboratory experiments to mass tetra-tenite production is long and requires further research and innovation.
Tetra-tenite could hold the key to a more sustainable and ecologically friendly future in electronics and technology production. If scientists can overcome the technical hurdles associated with its production, this metal could reshape global supply chains and reduce dependence on rare earth metals. Perhaps, the answer to our technological and environmental challenges has come straight from outer space.
- I'm Vasyl Kolomiiets, a seasoned tech journalist regularly contributing to global publications. Having a profound background in information technologies, I seamlessly blended my technical expertise with my passion for writing, venturing into technology journalism. I've covered a wide range of topics including cutting-edge developments and their impacts on society, contributing to leading tech platforms.
- Troubleshooting15/11/2023Intel Fixes Critical Vulnerability Affecting All Processors – CVE-2023-23583
- Business15/11/2023Google Pays $8 Billion to Samsung for Default ‘Play Market’ and Search in Galaxy Devices
- Technology04/11/2023North Korea Upgrades Mobile Networks with Huawei Equipment Imports
- Technology03/11/2023Chinese Scientists Invent Passive Saltwater Cooler, Boosts CPU Speed by a Third