"New Kind of Glass Will Bend but Does Not Break"
January 29th, 2014
Researchers have created a brand new type of extremely strong glass that bends but will not break. It was inspired by the mechanisms of natural structures like seashells. McGill University examiners were able to increase the sturdiness of glass. Now, if the glass is dropped, it will only bend and become slightly out of shape, stated a news release from the university.
Mollusk shells are made out of over 95 percent chalk. This makes them extremely brittle in their purest forms, explained Professor François Barthelat, but something like nacre or mother-of-pearl, which covers the inner side of shells, is made up of minuscule tablets, which are similar to very tiny Lego blocks. It is known to be very tough and strong, which is why scientists have been learning about its construction for nearly the past twenty-five years.
Researchers have long attempted to make nacre in the lab, but it has been something of a challenge. It was like trying to create a Lego wall with minute building tablets. This was not the easiest thing to do. So instead, Barthelat and his group decided to examine the interior weaker edges of nacre and then they used lasers to carve various networks of mini cracks in glass slides so they could make similar fragile boundaries. The results ended up being dramatic.
The research group was able to successfully amplify the durability of glass microscope slides over 200 times by constructing micro cracks through their various surfaces. The researchers were able to keep the cracks from spreading and growing larger by filling up the cracks with polyurethane. This ended up being only a precaution and was never a necessity, stated the news report.
Some of the benefits of the stronger glass could be that it is used in the building of eye glasses, bullet proof windows or maybe even put into the screens of smartphones. This glass will be extremely practical due to its extreme hardness, transparency, chemical resistance and its lasting durability. Everything about this new type of glass appears to be a benefit to society at large. It is also believed that this new kind of glass will be extremely economical, stated Barthelat.
The group thinks that such a technique could be on any size of glass, and they believe the process they did would be very simple to scale to any various glass sheets. What they believe is that now they can strengthen not only glass, but also numerous other materials, by using the micro crack configurations in order to guide any bigger cracks, and during the process grip energy from an impact, stated Barthelat. The team decided to work with glass because they wanted to toy with something that is considered one of the most brittle materials. However, they plan on continuing their work by testing polymers and ceramics in future. The researchers have created a brand new type of strong glass that bends but will not break.