Robert Ritchie, a member of the research team that developed the super-tough metallic glass. Image: Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab Public Affairs
Main image shows extensive plastic shielding of an initially sharp crack. Inset is a magnified view of a shear offset (arrow) developed during plastic sliding before the crack opened. Image: Robert Ritchie and Marios Demetriou
It seems hard to believe that glass could be stronger than steel, but a team of researchers has developed a super-strong metallic glass that has incredible plasticity when placed under stress, making it as strong and tough as metal. Typically, the structure of glass is strong but brittle which can cause cracks to develop and spread. The new metallic glass features palladium which has a high “bulk-to-shear” stiffness ratio. This allows the metallic glass to bend rather than crack – giving it a fracture toughness that goes beyond the limits of some of the strongest and toughest materials known.
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