The Glass Age Stretch the Limits of Reality | The Glass Age | Innovation | Corning.com

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Science of Glass

Science of Glass

Science of Glass

The Glass Age: Stretch the Limits of Reality

The Glass Age: Stretch the Limits of Reality

Is there any limit to what glass can do? Some might think so, but as part of the Glass Age, we challenge you to explore the truth surrounding glass. You might just be amazed at what glass can do.

Glass is extraordinary

When people think of glass, they tend to think of simple applications such as windows or drinking glasses, but a single element added to glass can significantly change its properties. By manipulating the composition at the molecular level, glass becomes tough enough for windows on the space shuttle entering the atmosphere at 25,000 km per hour, clear enough to carry 10 trillion bits of information per second, and pristine enough to make an LCD TV with 3 million pixels. Glass is anything but simple.

Glass is a family of materials

One glass composition is not identical to the next. By manipulating glass compositions, it can become light, flexible, durable, and even scratch-resistant. Glass creates a family of materials that can then be used for specific purposes or applications.

Glass is light, thin, and tough

Glass can be made as slim as a dollar bill, making it very lightweight and thin. However, scientists have proven that even when it is slim, glass can be durable and can resist damage. For example, large sheets of strengthened glass measuring less than 1mm thick are tough enough to withstand the impact of a baseball thrown at 60 mph.

Even without chemical strengthening, glass is pretty tough. It’s theoretical strength is 10 Gigapascals. This translates into the weight of about 10,000 elephants to produce just one Gigapascal under an elephant’s foot. Simply said, glass can take a hit.

Glass can bend

While most glass doesn’t bend, there are several glass innovations that do. Certain glass optical fiber products can bend around tight corners without losing signals, or even contour around objects while maintaining bright, uniform light. Another innovation is an ultra-slim glass that can be rolled like sheets of paper and flexed like wire.

Glass endures

Some of the oldest objects in the universe are particles of glass. The Apollo astronauts found glass spears that were billions of years old in lunar soil. Part of the endurance of glass is certainly connected to its stability over time. Glass scientists have calculated that it would require 20 trillion times the age of the Earth to create a visible change in thickness in a glass window.

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