Scientists Look to Oysters to Create Shatter-Resistant Glass

July 02, 2019

Glass is a marvel that has been continually used throughout human history, and with good reason, too: it’s durable, transparent, and not affected by heat or chemicals.

However, it does have one major weakness: sharp impacts. A slight bump at the right angle can sometimes leave spiderweb cracks in glass panes.

Scientists from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, claim that oysters may inspire the answer to finding a way around this design flaw.

When an oyster is cracked open, their inner surface has a smooth substance known as mother-of-pearl, which happens to be both beautiful and resilient. On a microscopic level, the material is made of tiny building blocks which can slide apart from each other.

This unique structure is what inspired the researchers to create a synthetic glass imitation of the substance, which can overcome glass’s brittle nature. Under pressure, the new creation bends instead of breaking.

Francois Barthelat, head of the research team and an engineer at the institution, said: “Our bio-inspired glass is two to three times more impact-resistant than laminated glass and tempered glass.”