Golf Plus Bonus Edition of Sports Illustrated March 16, 1998

The article entitled "Betting on Big Ideas" by Rick Lipsey, photographs by Steve Goldstein says:

"The material getting the most attention is Liquidmetal, which seems so well suited for clubs that it could soon become the material of choice for woods and irons."

"Liquidmetal was discovered in 1992 by engineering professor Bill Johnson and graduate student Atakan Peker at the California Institute of Technology. Johnson and Peker, experts in material sciences, made their discovery while working on a research project funded mostly by you and me, that is to say federal agencies, including the Department of Energy and NASA."

"Their original goal was to come up with metallic alloys that could be used for things such as jet wings and rocket-engine parts. Liquidmetal was perfect. A blend of beryllium, copper, nickel, titanium, and zirconium, Liquidmetal solidifies without crystallizing, which Johnson and Peker believe is why it's twice as strong as titanium but softer and more malleable."

Johnson, an avid golfer, is always looking for ways to apply his discoveries to the game, and it turned out that Liquidmetal was a perfect match..."

Although Prof. Johnson would not phrase the previous description in quite the same way, the Sports Illustrated article does capture some of the essence of the bulk metallic glasses that are are the subject of much of Johnson's current research in materials science.

The photograph below, scanned from a two-page spread in the Sports Illustrated issue, shows a putter made of "Liquidmetal" beneath Johnson (left) and Peker. The copper levitation coil in the lower left was actually used in the development of bulk metallic glasses, although the flask and beaker of dry ice were not. Room lighting and wide angle lens distortions present a somewhat altered view of the materials preparation lab, and of Prof. Bill Johnson.

More about Liquidmetal Golf including a quicktime video.
More Technical Description of Johnson's Research Interests
Return to Materials Science home page