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UCLA mechanical engineers and materials scientists have developed a process that uses nanoparticles to strengthen the atomic structure of glass. The result is a product that's at least five times tougher than any glass currently available.
The process could yield glass that's useful for industrial applications—in engine components and tools that can withstand high temperatures, for instance—as well as for doors, tables and other architectural and design elements.
Study - Online - Journal - Advanced - Materials
The study was published online in the journal Advanced Materials and will be included in a future print edition. The authors wrote that same approach could also be used for manufacturing tougher ceramics that could be used, for example, in spacecraft components that are better able to withstand extreme heat.
In materials science, "toughness" measures how much energy a material can absorb—and how much it can deform—without fracturing. While glass and ceramics can be reinforced using external treatments, like chemical coatings, those approaches don't change the fact that the materials themselves are brittle.
Issue - UCLA - Researchers - Cue - Structure
To solve that issue, the UCLA researchers took a cue from the atomic structure of metals, which can take a pounding and not break.
"The chemical bonds that hold glass and ceramics together are pretty rigid, while the bonds in metals allow some flexibility," said Xiaochun Li, the Raytheon Professor of Manufacturing at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, and the study's principal investigator. "In glass and ceramics, when the impact is strong...
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