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Japanese Scientists Develop a Glass that is as Strong as Steel

Updated on October 2, 2016

"Glass as Strong as Steel"

Hong Kong Skyscraper
Hong Kong Skyscraper | Source

Broken window

broken window
broken window | Source

Process of Making Super Strong Glass

This photo shows when the alumina oxide gas is forced into silicon dioxide to form the new glass.
This photo shows when the alumina oxide gas is forced into silicon dioxide to form the new glass. | Source

Glass is Fragile

Take a look around. You may notice that you are in a room with windows. We use glass in our everyday lives. We drink from glasses, and we even read with glasses. Many of us take glass for granted. Consider the following question:

If you could replace all of the windows on your house with a super strong glass, would you?

Experiments are being performed to significantly strengthen the durability of glass that may affect our very future.

Scientists in Japan have developed a new process to make glass

The new technique for making glass is done with a container-less processing, where silicon dioxide is mixed with alumina (which is an oxide of alumina). Conventional glass is just silicon dioxide without adding alumina to strengthen it.

A Problem for Japanese Scientists making Strong Glass

Scientists have previously encountered problems in creating this strong glass, because the oxide of aluminum causes immediate crystallization with silicon oxide comes in direct contact with the aluminum oxide container.

This problem was solved when Japanese scientists created a new method for combining silicon oxide and aluminum oxide. The new method is a 'containerless' process.

When the scientists tested the rigidity of the new glass, it was rated on the same level as iron or steel by the Young's modulus rating.

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The Goal is to Mass Produce Super Strong Glass within 5 Years

An assistant professor at the University of Tokyo said that their goal is to create a way to mass produce this new material. Their goal is to commercialize this technique within five years.

Once commercialized, this new glass would substantially reduce window replacements for homes, cars, and businesses, due to the durability of this new glass.


Caltech logo
Caltech logo | Source

Caltech Makes their own Strong Glass Variant

A professor at Caltech has also been working on their own version of a stronger glass. His name is Marios Demetriou. He has experimented on a strong version of glass created from palladium and small fragments of silicon, germanium, and phosphorus. This has been coined as "marginal glass." The palladium glass actually forms a blocking pattern that prevents cracks from forming in the process.

The problem with mass producing palladium glass is the cost. Palladium is a very expensive material.

Making Marginal Glass Even Stronger

He then added 3.5% of silver to marginal glass, increasing its thickness, and its strength. They call this version, "bulk glass."

If not Glass, then Dental Implants

Despite the fact that making glass from palladium is expensive, one possible innovation that may result from these experiments are stronger dental implants. Marios Demetriou believes that a dental implant made from this material is realistic and could be commercialized within five years.

Source: Cooper, Arnie. Glass that's Stronger than Steel. MIT Technology Review.


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