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Your next smartphone screen could be BULLETPROOF Scientists create tough see through ‘glass’ made fr

Your next smartphone screen could be BULLETPROOF Scientists create tough see through ‘glass’ made fr

Your next smartphone screen could be BULLETPROOF
Scientists create tough see-through ‘glass’ made from metal By RICHARD GRAY FOR MAILONLINE A transparent metallic ‘clay’ has been developed
by US military scientists that could lead to new super-tough screens and displays. The material, made from a magnesium and aluminium-based
mineral called spinel, is far tougher and lighter than bulletproof glass. And the researchers claim it could be used
to protect vehicles and cockpits on aircraft as well as in spacecraft and satellites. Some have compared the material to the transparent
aluminium used to create the windows on the spaceships in the hit TV series Star Trek. But the scientists claim it could also be
used to create scratchproof lenses for cameras and smartphones whose screens that do not
smash when dropped. They say the transparent armour could additionally
find uses in military lasers and infrared equipment. The material, which has taken more than ten
years to develop, is created by pressing a nanopowder together while heating it to create
a pure piece of spinel crystal. This can then be modelled, in a similar way
to traditional clay. Dr Jas Sanghera, who led the research at the
US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, said the material performed far better than
bulletproof glass, which works by creating layers of plastic and glass up to five inches
thick that slow the passage of a bullet. He said: ‘If you replaced that with spinel,
you’d reduce the weight by a factor of two or more.’ The crystal structure of glass means that
once a crack forms on the surface, it passes all the way through, and as a result bulletproof
glass can become impossible to see through. Instead, windows made from spinel would not
suffer the same problem. Dr Sanghera said: ‘It’s like navigating through
the asteroid belt, you create a tortuous path. ‘If I have all these crystals packed together,
the crack gets deflected at the hard crystals. You dissipate the crack energy.’ He added that spinal windows could help to
protect satellites and spacecraft visiting harsh environments on other planets. ‘You could leave these out there for longer
periods of time, go into environments that are harsher than what they’re encountering
now, and enable more capabilities.’ He added that it could also be used to create
new watch faces and smartphones that are truly resistant to smashing. Spinel, which is also known as magnesium aluminate,
can be found naturally occurring as a gemstone, such as the Black Prince’s Ruby, which is
a coloured piece of spinel. However, researchers at the US Naval Research
Laboratory have synthesised their own ultra-pure spinel powder which they can form into sheets
of crystal using a process called ‘sintering’ in a hot press. The material has also been found to be optically
very pure and so it can be used to create lenses for sensitive infrared cameras and
lasers. Dr Sanghera said: ‘Lasers can be thought of
as a box comprised of optics. There’s passive and there’s active components:
passive is just a protective window; active is where we change the colour of light coming
out the other end. ‘That (passive) window, if it’s got any impurities
or junk, it can absorb that laser light. When it absorbs, things heat up.’

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