Scientists at Aalborg University in Denmark have announced a major breakthrough in the development of “self-healing glass” (or glass which can mend itself). Their research has gained new insights into the mechanisms affecting the formation of cracks in glass, and thus how it can be reversed or avoided. And the key to their discovery is water.
In normal glass, humidity makes chips and cracks grow larger as water molecules from humid air enter the glass and break down its structure. But with this new oxide glass, water has a positive effect on crack resistance. Instead of growing and spreading, cracks actually become smaller over time due to the action of humidity.
If validated, the findings could lead to improved glass performance in many applications, such as smartphone screens, eye glasses but also vehicle windshields. It could also mean thinner glass, which translates as lower weight, energy savings and lower CO2.