Yu Yanagisawa accidentally discovered a new type of glass that can be repaired by simply pressing it together after it cracks, according to
Yanagisawa, a chemistry researcher at the University of Tokyo, made the breakthrough during his investigation with adhesives that can be used even on wet surfaces.
The newly discovered super-durable — or “self-healing” — glass could potentially double or triple the lifespan of everyday consumer products, including car windows, toilet seats, construction materials, and fish tanks, according to AFP via Yahoo News.
During a demonstration to AFP in a laboratory, Yanagisawa broke a sample super-durable glass into two pieces, and proceeded to press the pieces together. After about 30 seconds, the broken pieces became whole again and was good as new.
Yanagisawa continued to demonstrate the glass’ strength by dangling a nearly full bottle of water from it, and it stayed in one piece.
The secret behind this breakthrough is polyether thioureas, a substance closer to acrylic than mineral glass, which can often be found and used for tableware and smartphone screens.
According to Yanagisawa’s study, the thiourea uses hydrogen bonding to make the edges of the broken glass self-adhesive.
While this all sounds exciting, especially for those who often drop their cellphones and crack the screen, the scientist said that the glass won’t be available anytime soon. The new discovery will open up new possibilities and opportunities for researchers to create more durable glass-like items.
“It is not realistically about fixing what is broken, more about making longer-lasting resin glass,” Yanagisawa said.
“When a material breaks, it has already had many tiny scars that have accumulated to result in major destruction. What this study showed was a path toward making a safe and long-lasting resin glass. We may be able to double or triple the lifespan of something that currently lasts for 10 or 20 years,” he added.
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