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New glass is as strong as steel
Researchers have created a type of glass that’s as strong as steel. Which could spell an end to shattered windscreens, broken windows and smashed mobile phone screens.
Scientists at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science say that their industrial-strength material is as thin and light as a normal sheet of glass. Crucially, it’s transparent too, so can still be used in windows, wine glasses and all the other usual applications.
So what’s the trick? Alumina, an aluminium oxide. This is what gives regular glass its strength. Usually when you try and increase the amount of alumina in the mix, it crystallises, but the scientists found a way around that. Instead of producing the glass in a container, they levitated it using an aerodynamic levitation furnace, in which ingredients were floated using oxygen and gas, and then melted together using carbon dioxide lasers.
The result? A new form of glass made up of 50 per cent alumina.
In tests, the glass was twice as strong as standard glass, proving closer to steel and iron in the strength stakes.
The researchers have only produced a small amount of the glass so far, but plan to work out a way to mass produce it in order to bring it to market. It could be here in around half a decade, with the potential to transform the building, consumer electronics, car and other industries. Good news for anyone who’s ever dropped their phone.