Playing with glass safely—and making it stronger

Jul 18, 2013 by Bill Hathaway
Playing with glass safely — and making it stronger

(Phys.org) —Researchers at Yale have developed a way to alter the microanatomy of glass and measure how the changes affect the material's overall character—offering new possibilities for tailoring glass with unusual strength and flexibility.

The method also applies to a wide variety of materials other than glass, including like steels, , natural materials, and composites.

"Correlating structure with property is the holy grail of materials science, and has been very difficult to study, particularly for technologically interesting materials," said Jan Schroers, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Yale. "We can now develop composites that are optimized for tensile ductility, perhaps the most important material property for structural applications."

Ductility refers to a material's plasticity, or its ability to change shape without breaking. Metallic glasses are , or blends, that can be extremely strong. A challenge for has been finding a way to design metallic glasses with greater ability to withstand immediate fracture upon deformation.

Schroers is the principal investigator of the research, which was published July 17 in the journal Nature Communications.

The new method, which the researchers call "artificial microstructures," allows them to vary one aspect of a material's microstructure—spacing, volume fraction, or shape, for example—while holding all other features constant. The method also allows them to measure the changes' effects on the material's general properties, such as strength and flexibility.

"Our method allows us to 'decode' microstructures and establish -property relationships," Schroers said. "In the past this could only be done, with some exceptions, through computer modeling." But computer modeling has rarely been able to predict the properties accurately.

Now researchers can design actual new microstructures and make scores of them in a matter of weeks.

Schroers, an expert in metallic glasses, is already using the new method to examine flaw tolerance and to understand nature's own design optimization processes.

"We can readily and highly quantitatively do this now," he said.

The paper is titled "Designing tensile ductility in metallic glasses."

Explore further: Scaling up armor systems

Related Stories

Metallic glass: How nanoscale islands react under strain

May 08, 2013

Quick-cooling molten atoms give metal alloys a glassy, or random, atomic structure that generates higher elasticity and better wear- and corrosion-resistance than their crystalline alloy counterparts. However, ...

Local icosahedral order in metallic glasses

Jul 15, 2013

(Phys.org) —Metallic glasses are essentially a frozen, supercooled liquid. They are amorphous metals, often alloys, which are non-crystalline and therefore have a highly disordered atomic arrangement. They ...

Recommended for you

Galaxy dust findings confound view of early Universe

Jan 31, 2015

What was the Universe like at the beginning of time? How did the Universe come to be the way it is today?—big questions and huge attention paid when scientists attempt answers. So was the early-universe ...

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory

Jan 30, 2015

A new study by a team of physicists at Rice University, Zhejiang University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Florida State University and the Max Planck Institute adds to the growing body of evidence supporting ...

Scaling up armor systems

Jan 30, 2015

Dermal modification is a significant part of evolution, says Ranajay Ghosh, an associate research scientist in the College of Engineering. Almost every organism has something on its skin that provides important ...

Seeking cracks in the Standard Model

Jan 30, 2015

In particle physics, it's our business to understand structure. I work on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and this machine lets us see and study the smallest structure of all; unimaginably tiny fundamental partic ...

The first optically synchronised free-electron laser

Jan 30, 2015

Scientists at DESY have developed and implemented an optical synchronisation system for the soft X-ray free-electron laser FLASH, achieving facility-wide synchronisation with femtosecond precision. The performance ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

hemitite
not rated yet Jul 18, 2013
How does one vary the STRUCTURE of an amorphous material such as glass?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.