Your smartphone screen will never break and burglars won’t break your window and take your wallet from the car. This could all become reality soon thanks to researchers from the University of Tokyo and Japan's Synchrotron Radiation Research, who have developed a glass material that is "as strong as steel."
“It has good mechanical properties and highly refractive,” notes the journal Scientific Reports, where the researchers’ findings were published. “The glass is also colorless and highly transparent.”
The secret of its strength is an increased amount of the so-called alumina [aluminium oxide] in the glass’s make-up. Previous attempts to boost it have faltered as for manufacturing problems, but the group of Japanese scientists found a way through a “levitation technique,” with the help of oxygen gas they pushed ingredients into the air and melted them with lasers. After several laboratory tests, the stiffness of the new glass is greater than of some metals, and very close to values in steel.
"Very high elastic constants of our glass might be helpful to make a very thin glass sheet without any bending because it is very hard," Atsunobu Masuno, an assistant professor at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science and the study’s lead author, told Metro. "It might be used, for example, as a cover glass for small devices or as a substrate for electric devices."
So, windows in buildings, cars and smartphone screens may be revolutionized in the coming years.
"We will establish a way to mass-produce the new material shortly," Masuno added. "We are looking to commercialize the technique within five years. Our next goal is to make truly ‘unbreakable’ glass."