Imagine a window with glass that is about as strong as steel, yet is thin and light. Thanks to Japanese researchers this has come one big step closer.

Young’s Modulus

Here is an article from tech website Gizmodo that explains the development:

Scientists in Japan say they’ve fashioned glass that’s almost as strong as steel.

The ability to make super strong glass could lead to a whole new generation of windows in buildings and vehicles, but could also prove useful in screens for electronics, like tablets, computers, and smartphones. The team, from the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science, had their findings published earlier this month in Scientific Reports by Nature.

“We are looking to commercialize the technique within five years,” University of Tokyo assistant professor Atsunobu Masuno told Asahi Shimbun.

Here’s the secret ingredient in such tough glass: alumina. It’s an oxide of aluminum, and mixing it with silicon dioxide makes glass way tougher. Problem is, when scientists have tried to use large amounts of alumina in the past, it caused the mixture to crystallize as soon as it touched any kind of container, preventing glass from being formed.

So the Tokyo team brewed up a method of making glass that required no container at all: they used gas to push the chemical components into the air, where they synthesized together. The result? A transparent ultra glass that’s 50% alumina and rivals the Young’s modulus of steel and iron, which measures rigidity and elasticity in solids.

The practical uses are broad, since the study notes that alumina glass made via aerodynamic levitation can yield a product that’s thin, light, and has excellent optical properties. We say, bring on commercialization.

So that should explain some of the science behind it. Don’t know about you, but this is rather exciting.

The commercial applications for this product could be massive, and for our sector especially. Previously, when new glass technologies have been discovered, either time or commercial applications have been limited. This time it looks like it could be different.

The post above is giving a rough lead time to market of around five years. For a new discovery that isn’t as long as you’d think. Think about what it could be used for. If it is as strong as they say, it might be able to replace toughened glass and laminated glass. Depends on the cost of course.

It’s not yet known how efficient this glass can become. The glass nerds will now be itching to get hold of any technical data with the aim to see how low U-Values could go with this. But on strength alone this is one very large step forward. Perhaps this could even become the minimum standard for glass? Again, depends on the cost of production.

All technologies

This sort of innovations will have ramifications way beyond windows and doors. Going on what was mentioned in the Gizmodo post, this new glass product has applications all over the place. Literally anything with glass could be replaced with this alumina-based product.

Phones, tablets, laptop screens, TV screens, mirrors, tables, glasses (both specs and drinking tools) the list goes on. Lightweight, crystal clear, excellent optical properties. All things which makes this new glass a fantastic new material to read DGB on!

Keep an eye out on this one, it could be a game changer.

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