Scientists Develop New “Unbreakable Glass” Inspired by Nature – 3x Stronger, 5x More Fracture-Resistant

The shiny nacre of abalone was washed ashore.

The strongest and toughest glass known to have been developed by McGill University scientists.

Scientists at McGill University are developing stronger, stronger glass, inspired by the inner layers of mollusk shells. The new material has the elasticity of plastic instead of being shattered by impact and can be used to improve the screen of mobile phones in the future, among other applications.

Techniques such as tempering and laminating can help reinforce glass, but they are costly and fail if the surface is damaged. “In the past, there was a trade-off between high strength, toughness and transparency. Our new material is not only three times stronger than regular glass, but more than five times more fracture resistant. We have, “says Allen Ehrlicher, an associate professor of biotechnology at Magill University.

Unbreakable glass composite

(A) Glass composite (no index matching strategy on the left side, index matching on the right side), (B) Glass composite microstructure, (C) Nacre diagram of red abalone shell, and (D) Nacre Fine structure. Credit: Allen Ehrlicher

Nature as a master of design

Scientists have taken inspiration from nature to create new glass-acrylic composites that mimic nacre or mother-of-pearl. “Nature is a master of design. Studying the structure of biological materials and understanding how they work provides inspiration for new materials, and sometimes blueprints,” Ehrlicher said. say.

“Surprisingly, the mother-of-pearl has the rigidity of hard materials and the durability of soft materials, and has the best of both worlds,” he explains. “It’s made up of a hard piece of chalk-like material that is layered with very elastic soft proteins. This structure creates extraordinary strength and is 3000 times stronger than the materials that make it up. It has become. “

Scientists have adopted the nacre structure and duplicated it with layers of glass flakes and acrylics to create a very strong and opaque material that is easy and cheap to manufacture. Then we went one step further and made the composite optically transparent. “By adjusting the index of refraction of the acrylic, it blended seamlessly with the glass to create a truly transparent composite,” said Ali Amini, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University. As a next step, they plan to improve it by incorporating smart technologies that allow glass to change properties such as color, dynamics and conductivity.

Fine structure of glass composite material

(A) microstructure of glass composite and (B) microstructure of nacre. Credit: Allen Ehrlicher

Lost invention of flexible glass

Flexible glass is believed to be an invention lost during the reign of Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar. According to a popular historical account by Roman writers Gaius Pliny the Elder and Petronius, the inventor brought a drinking bowl made of that material to the emperor. When tested to break the bowl, it was just dented instead of shattered.

After the inventor swore that he was the only one who knew how to make the material, Tiberius executed the man for fear of devaluing gold and silver because glass might be more valuable. rice field.

“When we think of Tiberius, we are happy that our material innovations lead to publication rather than execution,” says Ehrlicher.

Reference: September 10, 2021, by Ali Amini, Adele Khavari, Francois Barthelat, Allen J. Ehrlicher, “Centrifugation and index matching provide a strong, transparent, bio-inspired pearly composite material.” Chemistry..
DOI: 10.1126 / science.abf0277

Scientists Develop New “Unbreakable Glass” Inspired by Nature – 3x Stronger, 5x More Fracture-Resistant Source link Scientists Develop New “Unbreakable Glass” Inspired by Nature – 3x Stronger, 5x More Fracture-Resistant

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