PerspectiveMaterials Science

Bioinspired improvement of laminated glass

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Science  28 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6447, pp. 1232-1233
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9677

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Summary

Glass has a distinctive set of optical, thermal, mechanical, chemical, and electrical properties that are useful in many applications. Yet, the inherent brittleness of glass can limit its use in load-bearing applications for which structural failure has serious consequences (for example, large public structures). Preexisting surface flaws can propagate when combined mechanical and environmental loads put glass under tension and trigger sudden catastrophic failure. In structural applications, laminated glass—that is, two or more glass plates adhesively bonded with thin polymer interlayers—is used to retain fragments in the event of unexpected fracture. The fractured laminated glass not only maintains user safety but also partly retains the failed unit's stiffness and structural integrity because the fragments interlock. On page 1260 of this issue, Yin et al. (1) present a bio-inspired glass-polymer composite with superior damage tolerance to laminated glass, reconfirming that nature can be a source of inspiration for technological improvements of materials.

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