Cracked smartphone screens and shattered windows may be a thing of the past. Scientists at McGill University in Montreal have created a new type of glass that is 200 times stronger – and it’s inspired by mollusk shells. The secret lies in the structure, which makes the shells 3,000 times more resilient than the brittle minerals they’re made of. This groundbreaking study was published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday.
Haliotis photo from Shutterstock
Even though they are made of brittle material, the shells of mollusks exhibit an astonishing resiliency and strength. The layers of minerals are connected in a way that creates a tough structure: the surface of the shell has numerous tiny lines called interfaces that may look like faults but are actually powerful deflectors of external pressure. Using a 3D laser, the scientists engraved similar microscopic fissures into glass slides and filled them with a polymer to enhance the material’s strength. They claim that, unlike the conventional glass which shatters if dropped on the floor, the new material would only slightly deform in the same situation.
The new super-strong glass could revolutionize the construction industry, as well as the production of high-tech gadgets like smartphones. The technology can be applied to different scales and produce components of different shapes and thickness.