Afraid of keeping glass-made decorative pieces at home as your naughty kids won't spare them for long? Not any more.
Here comes a NextGen glass that bends but does not break when dropped - thus offering improved man-made designs in the future.
at McGill University in Canada have developed a technique that makes
the glass simply bend and become slightly deformed when dropped.
inspiration comes from the mechanics of natural structures like
seashells in order to significantly increase the toughness of glass.
"Mollusk shells are made up of about 95 percent chalk which is very brittle in its pure form," says professor Francois Barthelat from McGill's department of mechanical engineering.
nacre - or mother-of-pearl - which coats the inner shells is made up of
microscopic tablets that are a bit like miniature Lego building blocks
and known to be extremely strong and tough.
"Imagine trying to
build a Lego wall with microscopic building blocks. It's not the easiest
thing in the world," explained Barthelat.
Instead, the researchers studied the internal 'weak' boundaries or edges to be found in natural materials like nacre.
They used lasers to engrave networks of 3D micro-cracks in glass slides in order to create similar weak boundaries.
The results were dramatic.
The researchers were able to increase the toughness of glass slides 200 times compared to non-engraved slides.
By engraving networks of micro-cracks, they were able to stop the cracks from propagating and becoming larger.
to Barthelat, the process would be easy to scale up to any size of
glass sheet since people are already engraving logos and patterns on
"What we know now is that we can toughen glass, or
other materials, by using patterns of micro-cracks to guide larger
cracks, and in the process absorb the energy from an impact," said
The reseachers now plan to go on to work with ceramics and polymers in future, said the study published in Nature Communications