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Japan Technology

That "Unbreakable" Glass That's "As Strong As Steel" Isn't Either 74

TheAlexKnapp writes: A number of stories about a new paper in Scientific Reports claim that it describes an "unbreakable" glass that's as "strong as steel." In a report about the paper for Forbes, Carmen Drahl notes that these claims are exaggerated. But that doesn't mean that the researchers haven't produced a promising material. From Carmen's story: "According to their calculations, this glass performed about as well as a heavy duty commercial glass. What this report describes isn't some miracle material, but a well-above-average performing glass that seems promising on a tiny scale."
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That "Unbreakable" Glass That's "As Strong As Steel" Isn't Either

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  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2015 @05:56PM (#50866649)

    Was the glass stronger than steel? Here, the question is what strength means, and what was actually measured. In this case, the researchers measured the glass’s rigidity and its resistance to being pushed on by something else. In both cases, the new glass outperformed most other types of glass, but it wasn’t exactly indestructible.

    She never answered the question. Steel isn't "indestructible" either.

    • Or maybe you can just test it against cheap, rusty steel? Old cans from the dump, maybe?
    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2015 @08:20PM (#50867599)

      Well, was it stronger than steel?

      Very likely yes, but that doesn't matter because nearly every glass is stronger than nearly every steel under ideal conditions. What usually matters is toughness since most glasses can't take much of an impact.

      If it's just pure load and the surface of the glass is perfectly smooth with not much in the way of internal defects then you can sit something on top of a block of glass that would damage a block of steel. In tension it's often stronger as well - unless a tiny scratch opens up into a crack and then it's going to break at a low load.
      That's why glass is used as reinforcing in "fibreglass" plastics - strong and the brittleness doesn't matter so much when the fibre diameter is about the size of a critical crack and the plastic is there to absorb the energy of impacts.

    • What the article I read described was that the glass had a high modulus of elasticity. There was absolutely no reference to strength, or ductility, both properties that would make me call the glass "strong" or "impact resistant". It's just stiff glass. Period. By the way, almost all grades of steel have about the same modulus of elasticity, even when their strength is vastly different, so the one does not imply the other.

    • by coldsalmon ( 946941 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2015 @09:10PM (#50867885)

      Glass was always "stronger" than steel in that it will take more stress without bending. Glass will just shatter, whereas steel will bend but not break. Glass has more "strength," but steel has more "toughness." An article at Popular Science [] explores this distinction: "Strength refers to how much force a material can take before it deforms. Toughness explains the energy required to fracture or break something." The article is from 2011, and is entitled "NEW METALLIC GLASS BEATS STEEL AS THE TOUGHEST, STRONGEST MATERIAL YET."

      • Strength is generally taken to mean tensile strength, the force/area in tension required to rupture a material, or required to permanently deform it. Stiffness is the ratio strain/stress, usually quantified as Young's modulus. Neither is the same as toughness, nor as hardness
        • by delt0r ( 999393 )
          Yea don't expect anyone to bother even reading the wiki about it. Also steel is not all that strong. There are stronger things. I always wonder why it is always "stronger than steel". Also what type of steel. Carbon steels cover a very wide range of material properties, and then there are nickel steels such as stainless steel (yea i know, still a carbon steel). And weight for weight even more things are stronger than steel such as aluminum alloys. And we haven't even got to composites.

          Yea i am being slop
  • I remember the day a kid came to school with an "unbreakable" mirror (some kind of foil backed clear plastic).
    He was soon proved wrong about his mirror.

    • You guys are so mean
      • We prefer to think of it as scientifically curious, literally precise, and prone to debunking hyperbole.

        Apparently everyone else says that means we have some traits in common with autism [].

        My wife just sticks with calling me a dork.

    • Yeah, my "unbreakable" combs never seem to last very long either for some reason...
      • Yeah, my "unbreakable" combs never seem to last very long either for some reason...

        They're not supposed to be used THAT way.... (grin)

  • Back to that quaint computer.
  • Puffery ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2015 @06:03PM (#50866699) Homepage

    Bah, pretty much any time a company says something isn't "un-anythingable" it's lying.

    Unsinkable. Unbreakable. Unbendable. Un-non-inflammable (because those of us old enough don't know what it means).

    I usually assume these claims are marketing crap, and therefore fairly meaningless.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      The scientists never claimed it was unbreakable or strong as steel. That came from journalists who wanted a better headline than "New Glass is Stronger Than Most Other Glass".
    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      Notable exception: "unverified".
    • Inflammable means it can be set ablaze.
      Non-inflammable means it can't (easily).

      "Flammable" and "non-flammable" are HORSESHIT with backwards and incorrect derivations that have only added confusion.

      • Flammable" and "non-flammable" are HORSESHIT with backwards and incorrect derivations that have only added confusion.

        Oh, bullshit. When I was a kid things were flammable, and inflammable. That's what was taught in school. Then some whiny people said in deference to other languages it was less confusing if we changed to match them. Mostly it's caused confusion since.

        Backwards and incorrect derivations are the fucking mean and potatoes of English. It's all backwards and incorrect.

        We discuss Flammability []

        • by Anonymous Coward

          (In)destructible, (in)secure, (in)visible, (in)controvetible, (in)sane, (in)correct, (in)capable. These are examples of why inflammable was a perfectly valid derivation which meant "doesn't burn", and was in fact in widespread use for a VERY long time.

          I don't mean to incriminate you, but you seem to incarnate an indoctrination that might incite people to form inquiry into seeming incandescent thoughts to only find they are not ingenious.

    • by Nyder ( 754090 )

      Bah, pretty much any time a company says something it's lying.


  • It's not false advertising!

    It's puffery! [] That makes it totes legit!

  • The glass cracked on an impact tester. Steel dents. According to the linked article it's just another form of strong glass, nothing special, unless they release data that supports the BS being reported about it.
  • They exaggerated the strength of their glass? That's a new one.

  • You would see on the iPhone first.
  • I could have sworn that Plexicorp already was in development since they got the formula almost 30 years ago.
  • Didn't I see that in a Star Trek movie?
    (This glass is made out of alumina, not silica. So, not really "glass" is the usual sense of the word.)
  • by DavidMZ ( 3411229 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2015 @07:53PM (#50867431)

    According to TFA:

    "In this work, we report a 54Al2O3-46Ta2O5 glass fabricated by aerodynamic levitation"

    "Analysis made using 27Al Magic Angle Spinning Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (MAS NMR) spectroscopy"

    And that's just in the first paragraph! Made by levitation, tested by Magic, it can be "as strong as steel"!

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle