July 6, 2009
Study: Table salt can stretch like taffy
U.S. scientists say they've discovered table salt so brittle it crushes easily between a thumb and forefinger can become super-elastic in the nanoworld.
Scientists at the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico said such elastic salt can stretch like taffy to twice its original length without breaking.
Nathan Moore and colleagues made the discovery using a specially designed microscope while studying how water coats salt crystals. They said they detected an unusual attractive force between the diamond tip of the microscope and the salt surface.
After a series of tests, the researchers showed the force encountered might have been caused by the presence of salt nanowires. They subsequently were able to capture images of salt nanowires being formed and stretched.
The researchers say their discovery could lead to new insights into the role of salt in a wide variety of situations.
The study appears in the journal Nano Letters.