Where materials science is constantly pushing boundaries and creating new possibilities for glass-enabled technology and design.
Since ancient times, glass has been an indispensable part of human life.
In its most primitive forms, it has been a vessel for food and drink.
Glass panes secured in our walls have connected us to the outside world, while still protecting us from it.
As modern times unfolded, glass took its place in almost every aspect of our lives. Glass lanterns helped guide railroad cars through safe crossings. Teardrop-shaped bulbs lit up our world. Glass tubes brought radio, then television, to the masses.
And glass researchers kept discovering more remarkable properties of this once-humble material. By manipulating compositions and formation processes, they discovered groundbreaking new ways to solve highly technical problems with glass.
Glass now enables us to communicate globally over high-speed networks as pulses of light zoom through hair-thin strands. It brings vivid, lifelike images to the handheld screens we carry with us everywhere. It lays the foundation for new drug discovery, for faster semiconductors, for game-changing ways of manufacturing chemicals.
With nearly limitless combinations of elements, heat, and processing at their disposal, glass scientists and engineers are just getting started. They passionately believe — and are proving every day — that the greatest potential of glass has yet to be discovered.
Welcome to the Glass Age.
THE GLASS AGE, PART 1: FLEXIBLE, BENDABLE GLASS
Be amazed as Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman introduce us to a whole new way of thinking about glass. Learn the history of glass innovation and watch incredible demonstrations of bendable optical fiber and thin, ultra-flexible glass.
I can’t imagine a world without glass.
THE GLASS AGE, PART 2: STRONG, DURABLE GLASS
Ever crack your cell phone screen? How about your car windshield? Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman explain why those days may soon be behind us. Watch as they conduct mind-bending demonstrations of strong, durable glass.
GLASS: THE QUINTESSENTIAL NANOTECH MATERIAL
Long before physicist Richard Feynman launched the nanotechnology era with his 1959 assertion, “There’s plenty of room at the bottom,” people were manipulating glass at the nano level — often without realizing it.
For thousands of years, artists have worked with glass because of how it forms, feels, and handles light, while craftsmen have used glass for practical applications because of its stability, impermeability, and transparency. In the last century, scientists have made extraordinary advances in the characterization and fabrication of glass, leading to innovative applications in diverse fields such as architecture, transportation, electronics, communications, and medicine.
How can one material do so much?
At its core, glass is quite simple. The primary building block of glass is silica in the form of sand. But silica is an extremely gracious collaborator with its friends on the Periodic Table. In fact, an overview of glass research reveals that scientists have added more than 50 different elements to silica to create glass compositions with unique attributes.
But composition is just the beginning. Scientists also use a broad range of techniques such as irradiation, surface modification, and precise temperature control to develop specialized glasses with different colors, form factors, strengths, degrees of flexibility, and light-handling abilities.
By fine-tuning the formulation and fabrication of glass, scientists can unleash a nearly limitless stream of new capabilities. This tremendous versatility has prompted scientist David Pye of Alfred University to describe glass as “the quintessential nanotech material.”
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