A major application of the mollusk shell strength became apparent to researchers at McGill University, Montreal,
Canada: glass. They wondered whether ordinary glass could be strengthened by borrowing the mollusk design. The technique is
to engrave invisible micro grooves throughout a glass panel using a laser. These channels are then filled with a clear polymer.
The result is glass which can bend by several degrees when stressed without breaking. This new form of glass is found to be
200 times more resistant to breaking than ordinary glass.
the new glass application has been limited to the small rectangular slides used in microscopy. If dropped, the thin slides
hit and bounce without breaking. When scaled up to household size, windowpanes may withstand the impact of stray neighborhood
baseballs. Materials in nature are found again and again to be superior to our manmade fabrication efforts. We have much to
learn by studying the handiwork details of the Creator.
Mirkhalaf, M. et. al,
Overcoming the brittleness of glass through bio-inspiration and micro-architecture, Nature Communications 5, 2014.