Glass stronger and tougher than steel? A new type of damage-tolerant metallic glass, demonstrating a strength and toughness beyond that of any known material, has been developed and tested by a collaboration of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)and the California Institute of Technology. What’s more, even better versions of this new glass may be on the way.
The new metallic glass is a microalloy featuring palladium, a metal with a high “bulk-to-shear” stiffness ratio that counteracts the intrinsic brittleness of glassy materials.
Commercialized metallic glass known as Liquidmetal and Vitreloy hit the market several years ago in the forms of golf clubs and baseball bats, it was too brittle to withstand much duress.
“The rule of thumb is that to make a metallic glass we need to have at least five elements so that when we quench the material, it doesn’t know what crystal structure to form and defaults to amorphous,” Ritchie says.