Expansion plans heat up

Most materials contract when cooled and expand when heated. Water is a well-known exception but it only breaks the rules in a narrow temperature band. However, Us researchers have discovered a new contrary material that does the opposite of what one would expect over a very wide temperature range. Zack Schlesinger of the University of California, Santa Cruz and colleague at other institutions found that zirconium tungstate is a frustrated material that does not fit the normal pattern of inorganic solids. The researchers suggest that mixing the right "normal" materials with this or a related compound could lead to composite materials that neither expand nor contract on heating or cooling. Such materials could have applications in almost every area of engineering from aerospace to satellite technology.