Oxford scientists say they've created transparent aluminum, but is it similar to what we saw in Star Trek IV? Well, not really. Using a powerful FLASH laser that produces brief pulses of "soft x-ray light," they knocked out an electron from every aluminum atom in a lab sample. Because this process didn't disrupt the metallic lattice structure of the metal, it magically turned the aluminum into a substance transparent to ultraviolet light.
Compounds containing aluminum have already been created (such as the aluminum oxynitride pictured above), but this is the first time pure aluminum has been rendered transparent. But you won't really be able to see through it — it's only invisible to extreme ultraviolet radiation. The amazing part? ''What we have created is a completely new state of matter nobody has seen before," said Professor Justin Wark.
There's a catch, though: The aluminum sample turned transparent was tiny — less than a 20th of the width of a human hair in diameter. And the amount of power required to create this minuscule window was equal to that of a power plant providing electricity to an entire city. Oh, and the see-through aluminum reverts quickly back to its natural state. But hey, it's a start. Scientists are saying the technology used to create this entirely new state of matter might also help in the quest for generating power using nuclear fusion.