• Question: in what way can you figure out out whether metals are safe suing the simulations

    Asked by anon-322253 on 22 Mar 2022.
    • Photo: Luke Humphrey

      Luke Humphrey answered on 22 Mar 2022: last edited 22 Mar 2022 9:59 am

      Hi, mansmans, great question – what do you mean by safe?

      Simulations can evaluate the structural stability of a metal (or partially metal) device, machine, or structure to ensure it is safe. A common application is to ensure a building can survive general use and/or extreme conditions like an earthquake, strong winds, flooding etc. OR to ensure a piping system will not rupture.

      If you’re talking about radioactivity, this tends to be done empirically by observing the decay rates of materials. I am not up to date on where we are with simulating decay rates of new isotopes but in theory it is possible. The best tool for this would be a quantum computer.

      In terms of the properties of the material, like tensile strength, this also tends to be done experimentally. Modern advanced in computing might be useful in material science to test new materials that don’t exist yet (like novel superconductors), but for traditional materials that we already have, it’s easier to test them in a lab.

      Hope this helps, if it doesn’t answer your question let me know and I can expand my answer.

    • Photo: Alex Headspith

      Alex Headspith answered on 23 Mar 2022:


      For design requirements, there is a process called FEA – Finite Element Analysis which will let you apply loads, forces etc. The software process these loads along with the conditions set up in order to quantify certain values, such as material stress, strain or displacement amongst other values.

      This is a useful tool that allows engineers to get an idea of how a system will behave. It isn’t an exclusive method for testing designs as there are inherent flaws built into the software due to the physics and computing constraints. Therefore to validate these results you still need to run physical experiments, but FEA is still useful as it can be done before anything has been physically manufactured and allows engineers to make important decisions on their designs.

    • Photo: Alin Elena

      Alin Elena answered on 24 Mar 2022:

      like someone said, what do you mean by safe.

      if you mean toxicity, at nanoscale this is a very important question and yes there is research in this direction.

      if you think of radioactivity, due to the danger of experiments the main way to assess materials involved radioactive waste storage for example is via simulations.

    • Photo: Daisy Shearer

      Daisy Shearer answered on 24 Mar 2022: last edited 24 Mar 2022 4:44 pm

      I think it depends on what you mean by ‘safe’. Metals are materials that we know a lot about and we can use computational simulations to try and work out what we’d expect things to look like using theory. Simulations take equations and can work out the results to these quite efficiently and tell you things about the expected properties of various systems.

      For example, I work mostly with materials called semiconductors but to pass electricity through my devices, I attach tiny gold wires to the devices. I can simulate the interface between my device and the contact to the wires to work out whether it will likely destroy the device or not when I pass electricity through it. That’s just one example though- as others have said you may be referring to safety from a construction or radioactivity or another viewpoint in which case I don’t have the expertise in that specific area to give you a good answer!