Making Stronger GlassesCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: October 1, 2012 02:24PM
Every time a new smartphone releases or is announced, it is not long before someone asks the question, "Does it se Gorilla Glass?" Of course this is a reasonable question, as one does not want their cellphone's screen to scratch or break, but why is it that some glass is stronger than others? That is the question researchers at Rice University decided to look into and they have found a very promising answer.
In general there is a trend that materials with higher melting points are also stronger, because their internal structure is quite elastic. Some glasses have very high melting points though, yet are relatively easy to fracture. The researchers decided to investigate this using a model they had developed some time ago for the kinetic properties of the molecules in the glass as it cools. At the time they developed that theory they simply never thought to see how it applies to a glass's strength, but now they are glad they have done so.
According to their theory, the strength of glass is indeed related to its molecular structure which can be manipulated when the glass is created, more or less. An ideal glass with its maximum possible strength could only be made by allowing it to cool infinitely slowly, which is not practical, but the researchers found it should be possible to get half way there with chemical vapor deposition. While half way still leaves a lot to be desired, such a piece of glass would be at least twice as strong as current glasses.