Glass is considered to be a material with immense significance due to its wide usage, ranging from protecting priceless art works to enabling displays of smartphones. The next challenging task is to increase the versatility of glass.
Decoding the glass “genome” could lead to faster development of new materials. Credit: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Thinkstock
Developing new glass compositions is a trial-and-error, time-consuming task. However, scientists have come up with a method to decode the glass “genome” and develop a variety of compositions of the material without making and melting every possibility. ACS’ journal Chemistry of Materials presents a report on this research.
The material is still unpredictable even though humans started making glass in ancient times. The way in which the structure of glass affects it's properties has not been fully understood by scientists. These properties include melting temperatures, crack resistance and density. The lack of growth in developing new products, like lighter windows for an increasing number of fuel-efficient cars, is hampered by this knowledge gap.
One significantly complicating aspect refers to the possibility of incorporating any element into glass, which refers to an almost endless list of possible compositions, each comprising a totally different set of properties. The trial-and-error method has been used to develop a wide range of glass types, but this method is time consuming. Morten M. Smedskjaer of Aalborg University and colleagues at Corning Incorporated planned to invent a rapid way to develop new glass compositions for large-scale applications.
The researchers explored the glass genome by incorporating a wide variety of computer models ranging from the empirical to those models grounded in physics. Using these models, the glass genome will have the potential to predict the behavior of a wide range of glass compositions in the real world and will also be able to optimize them for much faster industrial production.