Glass that bends? It sounds impossible. But in today’s issue of Science, researchers report that they’ve come up with a new type of metallic glass that flexes and bows like a copper wire. The advance could potentially usher in a new family of wonder materials.
Ultrathin metallic glasses have been around for decades. They became a rage about 10 years ago, when researchers discovered a way to grow them as thick slabs. That opened the door to using these extremely hard and strong materials as everything from novel structural supports in buildings to golf club heads. Unfortunately, bulk metallic glasses also have an Achilles heel: They’re as brittle as your average windowpane.
The problem is that the same properties that give metallic glasses their strength also contribute to their propensity to fracture.