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Glass Roundup

July 18, 2008

If metal could be designed to harden like glass does, a new, nearly unbreakable material could result.


Wings of glass. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When molten metal cools, the atoms arrange themselves into a pattern called a crystal lattice. Metals bend and sometimes fracture along the boundaries of these crystals. But when glass cools, its atoms arrange randomly. Engineers say that if they could get metals to harden the same way, they’d have what they call a metal glass, much springier and less likely to bend or break. In the journal Nature Materials, researchers report figuring out the basic crystal structure of glass, a finding that could lead to metal glass for airplanes, engines and even golf clubs.

In other glass news, Imperial College scientists in England are developing glass bone grafts that release calcium at precise levels. The calcium stimulates bone growth, which gradually replaces the glass. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.