MAY 21, 2020 8:27 AM PDT

The Nature of Glass Still Dumbfounds Scientists

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

There are many things we humans have come to perfect, but don't yet fully understand. Take glass for example, scientists are still baffled by its existence. Silica glass, the form of glass we are most familiar with, are used in building windows, containers, windshields, and optical equipment. Yet not many is aware that it's in a state between liquid and solid, called amorphous, non-crystalline solid. 

The word "amorphous" means having no definite form or simply shapeless. All glass has an internal structure made of interconnected blocks without particular orders, unlike their cousin crystalline solids (such as salt, ice, diamond, metal nuggets, etc)

Scientists have been contemplating the concept of the "ideal" glass, which could be a liquid whose molecules can't flow, or at least not fast enough to be noticeable by human eyes.

People sometimes mistook the odd-shaped window glass in medieval cathedrals as the evidence that the nature of glass a liquid. However, researchers have proven that the thicker bottom of window panes was due to a defect in glass manufacturing, but not the "melting" of the glass. According to a mathematical simulation, it would take longer than the history of our universe for room-temperature cathedral glass to rearrange its atoms so that humans can notice.

But this lack of comprehensive understanding did not stop researchers from improving the methods in glass making. Vapor deposition is a technique that builds glass one molecule at a time. The resulted glass products are denser and more stable than anything we have seen. By continuing to perfect our know-hows, maybe one day, we will have the complete knowledge of how glass comes into being.

Source: Seeker via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
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