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February 3, 2014 AT 7:10 am

Mollusk shells inspire new super-glass design

bioinspired_glass

Engineers, inspired by the counterintuitive toughness of the brittle mineral makeup of mollusk shells, have developed a new type of glass 200 times stronger than an ordinary pane.

Taking what they learnt, the team used a 3D laser to engrave microscopic fissures into glass slides, filled them with a polymer, and found it made them 200 times tougher.
The glass could absorb impacts better—yielding and bending slightly instead of shattering.
“A container made of standard glass will break and shatter if it is dropped on the floor.
“In contrast, a container made of our bio-inspired glass has the possibility to deform a little, without completely fracturing,” study co-author Francois Barthelat told AFP.
“That container could therefore be used again after one or several drops.”
The engraved glass can “stretch” by almost five percent before snapping—compared to a strain capacity of only 0.1 percent for standard glass.
The stronger glass may find application in bullet-proof windows, glasses, or even smartphone screens.

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