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1-min read

Scientists Create Almost Shatterproof Glass Drawing Inspiration from Oyster Shells

The researchers realized that they might be able to take advantage of this structure to create a synthetic glass that duplicates mother-of-pearl's sliding property as it overcomes inherent brittleness.

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Updated:June 29, 2019, 4:39 PM IST
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Scientists Create Almost Shatterproof Glass Drawing Inspiration from Oyster Shells
Image for Representation. Picture credits: Associated Press/Elaine Thompson.
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The inside of an oyster is a kaleidoscope of colours.

The shimmery material, known as mother-of-pearl, is not only beautiful, but extremely resilient as well. And now the resilient substance has inspired scientists to create a virtually shatterproof glass, the results of which were published in the journal Science.

According to a story published in Discover Magazine, lead author of the study, Francois Barthelat said, "Our bioinspired glass is 2-3 times more impact resistant than laminated glass and tempered glass — the ‘standards’ for impact-resistant transparent materials.”

Tempered glass helps protect against minor bumps and dings as the material is compressed at its surface which helps to prevent cracks from forming. However, when it does crack, it explodes. Laminated glass, where a softer material is sandwiched between layers of glass, does a better job but has similar problems when it comes to impact resistance.

On a microscopic level, mother-of-pearls look like it is made out of tiny building blocks, which under pressure, slide apart from each other, allowing the material to take substantial blows without breaking.

The researchers realized that they might be able to take advantage of this structure to create a synthetic glass that duplicates mother-of-pearl's sliding property as it overcomes inherent brittleness.

The researchers used laser to cut 'bricks' out of borosilicate glass sheets which were then laminated. They then aligned and arranged the sheets so that the final product mimicked the three-dimensional structure of mother-of-pearl, with a type of plastic (called ethylene-vinyl acetate) acting as the “mortar.”

The new glass, thus produced is transparent, does not produce any image distortions and bends instead of breaking under stress, all the while being as strong as laminated glass.

Barthelat reveals that it does not break 'catastrophically' like normal glass but rather 'dents' and deforms'.

According to the scientists, materials made from the new glass would be more resistant to chips, cracks and even small punctures and can be used for a number of applications like windows, windshields to solar panels and touchscreens, revealed Barthelat.

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