Inspired by the strength of mollusk shells, researchers from Canada’s McGill University have created a new glass that is stronger and tougher than standard glass, and as resilient as plastic.

The glass and acrylic composite developed by the McGill University team mimics nacre, otherwise known as mother of pearl, which is both rigid and durable.

Source: McGill UniversitySource: McGill University

In the lab, the research team combined layers of glass flakes with acrylic to create an extremely strong yet opaque material. To make the material as transparent as glass, the researchers tuned the refractive index of acrylic, making it blend seamlessly with the glass — the end result of which is an inexpensive and easy to manufacture transparent composite.

The reportedly three times stronger, five times more fracture resistant than glass material could potentially be used in the manufacture of future cell phone screens.

The research, Centrifugation and index matching yield a strong and transparent bioinspired nacreous composite, is featured in the journal Science.

To contact the author of this article, email