Researchers at the Yanshan University in China have developed the hardest glass on earth. This glass is as hard as diamonds and is able to scratch diamond crystals with ease.
Scientists are calling this new material the AM III. It has “outstanding” mechanical and electronic properties, and could easily be used in solar cells due to its ultra-high strength and resistance to wear.
The analysis of this material was published in the journal of National Science Review, which revealed that its hardness was rated at 113 gigapascals (GPa). Natural diamond is usually rated between 5o to 70 on the same test.
The scientists commented on their development saying:
Consequently, our measurements demonstrate that the AM-III material is comparable in strength to diamond and superior to the other known strongest materials.
According to scientists, the AM III has tunable energy absorption properties similar to semiconductors used in solar cells such as hydrogenated amorphous silicon films.
To develop this material, the scientists used fullerenes, which are materials made of hollow football-like arrangements of carbon atoms. The scientists produced different types of glassy material with varying molecular structures, among which AM III had the highest order of atoms and molecules.
The research team achieved this order of molecules by crushing and blending the fullerenes together and applying intense heat and pressure to them for about 13 hours. The material also spent an equal amount of time cooling down.
The researchers wrote in the study:
The emergence of this type of ultrahard, ultrastrong, semiconducting amorphous material offers excellent candidates to [the] most demanding practical applications.