Shell-inspired glass can create a near-unbreakable screen phone – The Clare People



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Almost unbreakable

In nature, mother-of-pearl has a microscopic structure similar to masonry, with small calcium carbonate plates interspersed with soft, elastic biopolymers. This composition not only improves the strength of the shells, but also prevents cracks from spreading.

Composition of glasses inspired by seashells (Image: Reproduction / Mcgill University)

“Mother-of-pearl has the strength of a hard material and the durability of a soft material and gives you the best of both worlds. It consists of a chalk-like substance made up of soft and elastic proteins, making it 3000 times more resistant than the materials it is made of, ”explains Ehrlicher.

For the in-tests, the scientists used a similar structure made of a composite of glass and acrylic. To make the material stiff and transparent at the same time, they matched the refractive index of acrylic to that of glass. The result was a more stable, yet translucent material.


Ordinary uncured glasses have disordered molecular bonds. If they fall or are hit with an energy greater than the bonding force between these molecules, the entire structure will be broken. Most glasses break accidentally because these bonds between molecules have some stronger points than others.

Microscopic images of the structure of the new composite made of glass (left) and natural mother-of-pearl (right) – (Image: Reproduction / Mcgill University)

The material created by researchers at McGill University has plastic elasticity instead of breaking. The layers of glass and acrylic flakes prevent cracks from spreading in the structure, creating a highly durable and easy-to-use bond.

“The next step will be to improve the material by installing an intelligent technology that enables the glass to independently change its properties such as color, mechanics and conductivity. This method is scalable and can be used in the production of stronger screens for smartphones and other devices, ”summarizes mechanical engineer Ali Amini, first author of the study.

Source: McGill University

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