Carving 3D architectures within glass: Exploring new strategies to transform the mechanics and performance of materials

Research paper by M. Mirkhalaf, J. Tanguay, F. Barthelat

Indexed on: 18 Mar '16Published on: 20 Feb '16Published in: Extreme Mechanics Letters


Combining high strength, hardness and high toughness remains a tremendous challenge in materials engineering. Interestingly nature overcomes this limitation, with materials such as bone which display unusual combinations of these properties in spite of their weak constituents. In these materials, highly mineralized “building-blocks” provide stiffness and strength, while weak interfaces between the blocks channel non-linear deformation and trigger powerful toughening mechanisms. This strategy is also exploited in multilayered ceramics, fiber-reinforced composites, and more recently in topologically-interlocked materials. In this work we apply these concepts to the toughening of glass panels by incorporating internal architectures carved within the material using three-dimensional laser engraving. Glass is relatively stiff and hard but it has no microstructure, no inelastic deformation mechanism, low toughness and poor resistance to impacts. We demonstrate how introducing controlled architectures in glass completely changes how this material deforms and fails. In particular, our new architectured glass panels can resist about two to four times more impact energy than plain glass. Our architectured glass also displays non-linear deformation, progressive damage and failure contained within a few building blocks. This work demonstrates how micro-architecture, bio-inspiration and top-down fabrication strategies provide new pathways to transform the mechanics and performance of materials and structures.

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