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The Chinese are developing the world’s strongest and toughest glass with a hardness comparable to diamond

Reuters Tatiana Makeeva

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Chinese scientists have developed the toughest and strongest glass material known to date that can easily scratch diamond crystals.

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Scientists, including researchers from Yanshan University in China, note that the new material, tentatively called AM-III, has “remarkable” mechanical and electronic properties, and could find applications in solar cells due to its “super strong” corrosion resistance.

Analysis of the material, published in the National Science Review, revealed that it had a hardness of 113 gigapascals (GPa), while a natural diamond typically scored 50 to 70 in the same test.

“As a result, our measurements show that AM-III is comparable in strength to diamond and superior to other known stronger materials,” the scientists noted in the study.

According to the scientists, AM-III has energy absorption properties comparable to semiconductors commonly used in solar cells such as hydrogenated amorphous silicon films.

Whereas in diamond crystals, the organized internal structure of their atoms and molecules contributes to their tremendous strength and hardness, researchers in AM-III have found that a combination of molecular arrangement and disorder leads to strange properties.

By using fullerenes, which are materials made of hollow, soccer-like arrangements of carbon atoms, the scientists produced various types of glass materials with variable molecular organization, among which AM-III had the highest order of atoms and molecules.

To achieve this arrangement of molecules, the scientists crushed and blended the fullerenes together, gradually applying intense heat and pressures of about 25 gigapascals and 1,200 degrees Celsius in an experimental chamber for about 12 hours, spending an equal amount of time cooling the material.

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The scientists noted that further arranging the molecules can kill semiconductors and other properties that require atoms and molecules to be chaotic.

“The emergence of this type of highly rigid, semiconducting amorphous material presents excellent candidates for the most demanding practical applications,” the scientists wrote in the study.

Source: The Independent