McGill University Seashell Unbreakable Glass
Photo credit: Pi-Lens
McGill University scientists have developed a seashell-inspired glass that is not only stronger, but 5-times tougher than the standard material. That’s right, instead of shattering upon impact, this material, modeled after the inner layer of mollusk shells, has the resiliency of plastic and could be used to improve smartphone screens in the future. It’s essentially a composite of glass and acrylic materials that mimics nacre or mother of pearl. Read more for additional pictures, information and a bonus video.

McGill University Seashell Unbreakable Glass
The architecture of nacre was then replicated with layers of glass flakes and acrylic, resulting in an incredible durable yet opaque material that can be produced easily as well as inexpensively. To make the composite optically transparent, they tuned the refractive index of the acrylic, which made it seamlessly blend with the glass. The team plans on improving upon this material by incorporating smart technology, possibly allowing the glass to change its properties, like, mechanics, and conductivity.

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McGill University Seashell Unbreakable Glass

Amazingly, nacre has the rigidity of a stiff material and durability of a soft material, giving it the best of both worlds. It’s made of stiff pieces of chalk-like matter that are layered with soft proteins that are highly elastic. This structure produces exceptional strength, making it 3000 times tougher than the materials that compose it,” said Allen Ehrlicher, an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at McGill University.

Bonus Video