Japanese researchers develop rubber-like super glass

Researchers
at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have published a paper demonstrating a new
type of glass with rubbery characteristics, which could be useful in
high-temperature environments.

In a
statement, the institute said its scientists and Asahi Glass Co. had invented a
“mixed alkali metaphosphate glass” which behaves similarly to rubber at glass
transition temperatures (the state where a material changes from a hard to a molten state).

Researchers
Seiji Inaba, Setsuro Ito and Hideo Hosono have published
their findings in the journal Nature Materials.

They discovered that the glass, which contains alkali
metals (lithium, sodium, potassium, cesium and phosphorous oxide), had its molecules behave like those of rubber when heated and elongated. 

The material then showed contraction never before displayed in glass when heated past transition temperature, and “displays
great anisotropy due to its straight chain orientation and reverts to its
original structure when released.”

“Further research could lead to rubber-like
glass with even better properties and further advances in the science of such
glasses,” the Institute said in a statement, reported at Nanowerk.

Potential
applications cited were in high-temperature, oxidising environments where
polymers would not work.

Image: Tokyo Institute of Technology

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