About this Research Topic
Accepting brittleness and benefiting from their optical properties and universal processability, glassy materials have found applications in environments with low levels of tensile stress. It was recognized, however, that intrinsically, glasses represent the strongest man-made material that can be produced on a large scale. It is only because of low resistance to surface damage that their uniquely high levels of intrinsic strength can presently not be exploited outside of research laboratories.
In a broader context, covering all classes of disordered materials (distinguished by the nature of chemical bonds), brittleness, stiffness, elastic limit, and the practical absence of ductility originate from the material’s molecular, mid-range, and surface topology. In inorganic as well as metallic glasses, mechanical properties must be considered in a twofold way: on the basis of structural length scales and dynamics. Identification of the determinant topological and density constraints and their engineering toward ultrahigh toughness is seen as a major future breakthrough of the field.
A thus-far disregarded synergy arises from the joint treatment of different classes of glass: many glassy materials appear to follow the same constitutive principles of coordination, packing density, free volume, structural dynamics, structural heterogeneity, and extreme mid- to long-range homogeneity. Funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG), the Priority Program (PP) 1594 had the objective of condensing existing experimental and theoretical competencies within Germany to enable a conceptual breakthrough in the understanding and design of the mechanical properties of glasses. For the first time, inorganic and metallic glasses were to be considered in a joint context. Here, a collection of results obtained in the scope of this research program will be assembled, and the major breakthroughs of the program and its associated groups be reviewed.
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Keywords: PP1594, Ultrastrong Glasses
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