Raymond, O., Perera, L. C., Brothers,, P. J., Henderson, W., & Pleiger, P. G. (2015). The chemistry and metallurgy of beryllium. Chemistry in New Zealand, 79(3), 137–143.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/9882
Beryllium (Be), the first of the group 2 alkali-earth elements, is a silver-gray metal possessing an unmatched combination of physical and mechanical properties, which are vital for a variety of applications that offer tremendous benefits to society. It is the lightest workable metal, only two-thirds the weight of aluminium, yet it has six times the stiffness of steel, making it an ideal material for stiffness-dependent and weight-limited applications. The chart in Fig. 1 illustrates how much beryllium outclasses other engineering materials with respect to thermal conductivity and dimensional stability (ability of a material to retain its uniformity under stress measured as the Young's modulus to density ratio). These unique properties of beryllium translate into performance enhancement in the end product, for instance the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST: see Fig. 2). The next generation James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to be launched in 2018 as NASA's replacement for the Hubble telescope, will utilise a 6.5 meter wide beryllium mirror to reveal images of distant galaxies 200 times beyond what has ever been sighted.
This article has been published in the journal: Chemistry New Zealand. Used with permission.