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Concept: Glass


Biological materials are often based on simple constituents and grown by the principle of self-assembly under ambient conditions. In particular, biomineralization approaches exploit efficient pathways of inorganic material synthesis. There is still a large gap between the complexity of natural systems and the practical utilization of bioinspired formation mechanisms. Here we describe a simple self-assembly route leading to a CaCO(3) microlens array, somewhat reminiscent of the brittlestars' microlenses, with uniform size and focal length, by using a minimum number of components and equipment at ambient conditions. The formation mechanism of the amorphous CaCO(3) microlens arrays was elucidated by confocal Raman spectroscopic imaging to be a two-step growth process mediated by the organic surfactant. CaCO(3) microlens arrays are easy to fabricate, biocompatible and functional in amorphous or more stable crystalline forms. This shows that advanced optical materials can be generated by a simple mineral precipitation.

Concepts: Mineral, Glass, Solid, Metaphysics, Optics, Lens, Microlens, Calcium carbonate


The structural description of disordered systems has been a longstanding challenge in physical science. We propose an atomic cluster alignment method to reveal the development of three-dimensional topological ordering in a metallic liquid as it undercools to form a glass. By analyzing molecular dynamic (MD) simulation trajectories of a Cu(64.5)Zr(35.5) alloy, we show that medium-range order (MRO) develops in the liquid as it approaches the glass transition. Specifically, around Cu sites, we observe “Bergman triacontahedron” packing (icosahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron) that extends out to the fourth shell, forming an interpenetrating backbone network in the glass. The discovery of Bergman-type MRO from our order-mining technique provides unique insights into the topological ordering near the glass transition and the relationship between metallic glasses and quasicrystals.

Concepts: Physics of glass, Scientific method, Icosidodecahedron, Iron, Titanium, Glass transition, Solid, Glass


Man-made mineral fibers are produced using inorganic materials and are widely used as thermal and acoustic insulation. These basically include continuous fiberglass filaments, glass wool (fiberglass insulation), stone wool, slag wool and refractory ceramic fibers. Likewise, in the last two decades nanoscale fibers have also been developed, among these being carbon nanotubes with their high electrical conductivity, mechanical resistance and thermal stability. Both man-made mineral fibers and carbon nanotubes have properties that make them inhalable and potentially harmful, which have led to studies to assess their pathogenicity. The aim of this review is to analyze the knowledge that currently exists about the ability of these fibers to produce respiratory diseases.

Concepts: Electrical conductivity, Magnesium, Glass, Fiberglass, Mineral wool, Thermal insulation, Building insulation materials, Materials


Phononic and magnonic dispersions of a linear array of periodic alternating Ni80Fe20 and bottom anti-reflective coating nanostripes on a Si substrate have been measured using Brillouin light scattering. The observed phononic gaps are considerably larger than those of laterally patterned multi-component crystals previously reported, mainly a consequence of the high elastic and density contrasts between the stripe materials. Additionally, the phonon hybridization bandgap has an unusual origin in the hybridization and avoided crossing of the zone-folded Rayleigh and pseudo-Sezawa waves. The magnonic band structure features near-dispersionless branches, with unusual vortex-like dynamic magnetization profiles, some of which lie below the highly-dispersive fundamental mode branch. Finite element calculations of the phononic and magnonic dispersions of the magphonic crystal accord well with experimental data.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Glass, Band gap, Brillouin scattering, 2006 albums, Raman scattering, Solid, Scattering


We present a new 4D printing approach that can create high resolution (up to a few microns), multimaterial shape memory polymer (SMP) architectures. The approach is based on high resolution projection microstereolithography (PμSL) and uses a family of photo-curable methacrylate based copolymer networks. We designed the constituents and compositions to exhibit desired thermomechanical behavior (including rubbery modulus, glass transition temperature and failure strain which is more than 300% and larger than any existing printable materials) to enable controlled shape memory behavior. We used a high resolution, high contrast digital micro display to ensure high resolution of photo-curing methacrylate based SMPs that requires higher exposure energy than more common acrylate based polymers. An automated material exchange process enables the manufacture of 3D composite architectures from multiple photo-curable SMPs. In order to understand the behavior of the 3D composite microarchitectures, we carry out high fidelity computational simulations of their complex nonlinear, time-dependent behavior and study important design considerations including local deformation, shape fixity and free recovery rate. Simulations are in good agreement with experiments for a series of single and multimaterial components and can be used to facilitate the design of SMP 3D structures.

Concepts: Glass, Differential scanning calorimetry, Polymer chemistry, Shape memory alloy, Polymer, Shape memory polymer, Polymers, Glass transition


Glasses with high elastic moduli have been in demand for many years because the thickness of such glasses can be reduced while maintaining its strength. Moreover, thinner and lighter glasses are desired for the fabrication of windows in buildings and cars, cover glasses for smart-phones and substrates in Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) displays. In this work, we report a 54Al2O3-46Ta2O5 glass fabricated by aerodynamic levitation which possesses one of the highest elastic moduli and hardness for oxide glasses also displaying excellent optical properties. The glass was colorless and transparent in the visible region, and its refractive index nd was as high as 1.94. The measured Young’s modulus and Vickers hardness were 158.3 GPa and 9.1 GPa, respectively, which are comparable to the previously reported highest values for oxide glasses. Analysis made using (27)Al Magic Angle Spinning Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (MAS NMR) spectroscopy revealed the presence of a significantly large fraction of high-coordinated Al in addition to four-coordinated Al in the glass. The high elastic modulus and hardness are attributed to both the large cationic field strength of Ta(5+) ions and the large dissociation energies per unit volume of Al2O3 and Ta2O5.

Concepts: Glass, Tensile strength, Elastic modulus, Light, Hardness, Stiffness, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Young's modulus


The response of amorphous steels to shock wave compression has been explored for the first time. Further, the effect of partial devitrification on the shock response of bulk metallic glasses is examined by conducting experiments on two iron-based in situ metallic glass matrix composites, containing varying amounts of crystalline precipitates, both with initial composition Fe49.7Cr17.7Mn1.9Mo7.4W1.6B15.2C3.8Si2.4. The samples, designated SAM2X5-600 and SAM2X5-630, are X-ray amorphous and partially crystalline, respectively, due to differences in sintering parameters during sample preparation. Shock response is determined by making velocity measurements using interferometry techniques at the rear free surface of the samples, which have been subjected to impact from a high-velocity projectile launched from a powder gun. Experiments have yielded results indicating a Hugoniot Elastic Limit (HEL) to be 8.58 ± 0.53 GPa for SAM2X5-600 and 11.76 ± 1.26 GPa for SAM2X5-630. The latter HEL result is higher than elastic limits for any BMG reported in the literature thus far. SAM2X5-600 catastrophically loses post-yield strength whereas SAM2X5-630, while showing some strain-softening, retains strength beyond the HEL. The presence of crystallinity within the amorphous matrix is thus seen to significantly aid in strengthening the material as well as preserving material strength beyond yielding.

Concepts: Shock wave, Amorphous solids, Materials science, Amorphous metal, Metal, Tensile strength, Solid, Glass


Tardigrades are microscopic animals that survive a remarkable array of stresses, including desiccation. How tardigrades survive desiccation has remained a mystery for more than 250 years. Trehalose, a disaccharide essential for several organisms to survive drying, is detected at low levels or not at all in some tardigrade species, indicating that tardigrades possess potentially novel mechanisms for surviving desiccation. Here we show that tardigrade-specific intrinsically disordered proteins (TDPs) are essential for desiccation tolerance. TDP genes are constitutively expressed at high levels or induced during desiccation in multiple tardigrade species. TDPs are required for tardigrade desiccation tolerance, and these genes are sufficient to increase desiccation tolerance when expressed in heterologous systems. TDPs form non-crystalline amorphous solids (vitrify) upon desiccation, and this vitrified state mirrors their protective capabilities. Our study identifies TDPs as functional mediators of tardigrade desiccation tolerance, expanding our knowledge of the roles and diversity of disordered proteins involved in stress tolerance.

Concepts: Solid, Silicon dioxide, Gene, Trehalose, Amorphous solid, Tardigrade, Glass transition, Glass


Many advanced technologies have relied on the availability of single crystals of appropriate material such as silicon for microelectronics or superalloys for turbine blades. Similarly, many promising materials could unleash their full potential if they were available in a single crystal form. However, the current methods are unsuitable for growing single crystals of these oftentimes incongruently melting, unstable or metastable materials. Here we demonstrate a strategy to overcome this hurdle by avoiding the gaseous or liquid phase, and directly converting glass into a single crystal. Specifically, Sb2S3 single crystals are grown in Sb-S-I glasses as an example of this approach. In this first unambiguous demonstration of an all-solid-state glass → crystal transformation, extraneous nucleation is avoided relative to crystal growth via spatially localized laser heating and inclusion of a suitable glass former in the composition. The ability to fabricate patterned single-crystal architecture on a glass surface is demonstrated, providing a new class of micro-structured substrate for low cost epitaxial growth, active planar devices, etc.

Concepts: Czochralski process, Crystal, Single crystal, Glass, Crystallization, Materials science, Crystallite, Solid


A total of nine tin-contained ancient glass beads were characterized by a combination of scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry and Raman spectroscopy. These glass beads dated from 1st century BC to 10th century AD were excavated from the Xinjiang and Guangxi provinces of China. Two kinds of tin-based opacifiers/colorants included crystalline cassiterite (SnO(2) ) and lead-tin yellow types II were first found in these soda lime glass beads. The tentative chronology of the tin-based opacifiers/colorants used in ancient glasses from China and the West was compared. In addition, several transition metal ions colorants were also found in these beads. The detailed study of the glassy matrices, crystalline inclusions, and the microstructural heterogeneities for these glass beads has revealed some valuable information to trace the possible making technology and provenances. Microsc. Res. Tech., 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Iron, Centuries, Soda-lime glass, Spectroscopy, Electron, Solid, Transition metal, Glass