We’re finally getting closer to solving the mystery of the perplexing strength of glass


A windowpan or tumbler can disintegrate quite easily, but solid glass should in fact be technically very rigid and strong, if we consider its molecular makeup.

Now, scientists have come close to revealing the source of this latent power.

Despite a lack of conventionally ordered structure, using a newly developed computer model to discover how atomic particles in glass can hold together, a new study has found that these particles are completely separated from the glass A force-carrying backbone can be inserted before cooling. Unstable, viscous state.

Calculations have shown that skeletons of stress-taking particles inside the viscous glass successfully met the percolation threshold – at which point this particle network is dense enough to support the material and keep it strong.

When a granular material is compacted, it forms a solid – for example, think of collecting grains of sand – researchers have described the resulting concrete as a ‘jam system’. These systems have some similarities to the cooling glass, and the team used their computer models to compare the two.

“At zero temperature, a jammed system will show long-range correlation in stress due to its internal perforation network,” says physicist Hua Tong of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China.

“This simulation showed that the same is true for glass, before it cools down completely.”

Glass is part of a group of amorphous solids, which lack the common long-range order and lattice patterns in their atoms and molecules that are found in crystals despite being strong in quiet form.

Instead, a small proportion of the composite particles carry the tension between the general chaos and disorder, from a microscopic point of view. However, those force-bearing particles first need to be spread or perforated far enough through the material, and this study sheds light on how the transition of the material passes through the transition of the glass.

In this critical network the particles must be connected by at least two strong bonds, scientists point out at which point a network can form that connects the entire system together – even if most of the molecular arrangement is degraded.

Glass is one of the most attractive materials for scientists, not least because it changes depending on whether it is too hot or cold. It can represent a new state of matter even at very low temperatures.

Studies have also shown that glass clearly defies the laws of thermodynamics, confusing scientific predictions about how it should be treated under certain conditions. All these findings are studies about glass, not only about glass, but everything we understand in physics is true.

Tougher, more rigid and longer-lasting glass is useful in all types of products, from cookware to smartphones, and researchers are hoping that their findings will lead to new, practical innovations for this material, as well as more elaborate labs. Will lead the trials.

“Our findings may open a path towards a better understanding of amorphous solids from a mechanical perspective,” says physicist Hajim Tanaka of the University of Tokyo.

The research has been published in Nature communication.

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