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Ultrastrong Glasses: Improving Mechanical Properties of Disordered Solids through Topo-Chemical Engineering

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Over the past decade, mechanical performance has been identified as the key issue in the design of glasses for next-generation applications. In particular, glasses with improved resistance to the formation and growth of surface defects have become a research objective for a broad variety of applications, ...

Over the past decade, mechanical performance has been identified as the key issue in the design of glasses for next-generation applications. In particular, glasses with improved resistance to the formation and growth of surface defects have become a research objective for a broad variety of applications, e.g., ranging from displays and handheld devices to mechanical energy storage, substrates for roll-to-roll processing or architecture. Significant research activities have subsequently been launched which target short-, mid- and long-term approaches to this problem by focusing on the ways in which glasses are processed, on post-treatment procedures for altering surface properties, or on the chemistry of glassy materials as such.
This broader context addresses specific properties such as brittleness, stiffness, the elastic limit and the practical absence of ductility, which are understood as a direct result of molecular, intermediate-range and surface topology. Identification of determinant design principles and topo-chemical constraints, and their engineering towards ultrahigh toughness are considered as major future breakthroughs. Here, it has been anticipated that significant synergy can be found in the joint treatment of the two archetype classes of glass, inorganic oxide glasses and metallic glasses, which present different degrees of bond localization and directionality. Hence, these materials provide two principally different routes to tailor the structural response to mechanical loading.
The present Research Theme issue addresses this subject, taking into account the interdisciplinarity of the field. It will consider both metallic and non-metallic, inorganic glasses in order to generate an understanding of the topo-chemical principles and surface reactions which underlie the macroscopic mechanical properties. It also welcomes application-oriented contributions which demonstrate examples of glasses with improved mechanical properties, or of processes which are suitable for their generation.


Keywords: glass, strength, fracture, brittleness


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