Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Liquid Nitrogen and Metals
Name: Henry S.
Status: Student
Age: 18
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: May 2003

I would like to know, if the more liquid nitrogen is poured on a metal, does it become more brittle and easier to smash?

In general a metal becomes more brittle as the temperature is reduced. There are many caveats to that generalization however. Some metals become more brittle than others. Impurities can be very important. The thermal history as well as the rate of cooling can play a role. The list of "but if's" is pretty long. The principle is that the metal atoms cannot "slide" across one another the lower the temperature is.

Vince Calder

Click here to return to the Engineering Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory