Inspired by the inner layers of mollusks, McGill University researchers have succeeded in making the hardest and strongest glass known, which does not break when struck and acts more like plastic.
The scientist-made material, when commercially available, could be used to improve cell phone displays and more in the future. Scientists were inspired to make this glass from nature and materials called “mother of pearl” and can be found in the inner shell of some mollusks.
“Alan Erlichter, an associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering at McGill University, says:
“Nature is a master of design. “Studying the structure of biological materials, as well as understanding how they work, is inspiring and, in some cases, the idea of making new materials.”
By carefully studying the mother-of-pearl architecture, scientists were able to simulate it in glass using pieces of glass and acrylic. Subsequently, this structure created an incredibly strong yet opaque material that could theoretically be mass-produced, cheap, and fast.
For now, the only way to make glass stronger is to re-bake or re-layer it. While these methods can enhance the strength of glass, it is a costly process. Ehrlich goes on to say:
“So far there has been a balance between power, strength and high transparency. “But our new material is not only three times stronger than ordinary glass, it is more than five times more resistant to breakage.”
There seems to have been a kind of flexible glass during the Roman Empire and Tiberius Julius. According to historical tradition, when the container was tested for strength, it was more scratched than crushed. However, its inventor, Tiberius, executed him because he feared that the glass would be worth more than gold and silver.