Researchers in Japan believe they’ve found a way to create glass that is nearly as strong as steel. A material so resistant to shattering has thousands of applications, and those behind the science are hopeful they can start production soon. So, just how did they find an answer to every butter-fingered smartphone user’s dream?

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The substance used in creating the durable glass is alumina, an oxide of aluminum. Mixed with silicon dioxide, it results in a much stronger pane of glass. But scientists have not had success in using alumina in the past due to the substance’s tendency to crystallize whenever it touches the walls of a container. Using a brilliant hack, the researchers instead expressed the chemical components into the air, where they synthesized and created a transparent pane of nearly unbreakable glass.

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The uses for glass that can withstand powerful blows is limitless: from super-safe windshields in cars to durable screens in electronic devices, this material will surely change the future. University of Tokyo assistant professor and co-author of the study Atsunobu Masuno reports, “We are looking to commercialize the technique within five years.” Until then, we’d better keep a firm grasp on our pricey, vulnerable phones.

Via gizmodo

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