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February 27th, 2010
Sudburians undoubtedly live in one of the most prominent mining communities in the world. Historically, no other region has produced as much nickel from its mines as Sudbury.
The most common use of nickel has been as an alloy in stainless steel -- a material that gave modern civilization many favourable properties. Stainless steel doesn't rust, and anything made of it is extremely hard and durable. In fact, the exterior of Science North's
snowflake-shaped buildings are clad in stainless steel, which the key ingredient is Sudbury's nickel.
In an age where we can make inflatable concrete, compostable plastics and sponges that absorb oil, but not water, one can only wonder what new uses could be on the horizon for Sudbury's metals.
Innovations in the field of materials science are growing exponentially. Nanotechnology, the study of materials at the atomic and molecular scale, bionics, science that strives to improve technologies by imitating nature, and metallurgy, the study of metals and their alloys, are all fields of materials science research that use numerous specialized materials.
One particularly interesting innovation, known as shapememory alloys, may be a key area of research where Sudbury's nickel and copper will play an important role.
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