New Metallic Glass Stronger and Tougher Than Steel

Scientists in the U.S. have created glass that's tougher to breaker than steel.

The damage-tolerant metallic glass was fabricated by combining up to five elements, including the rare metal palladium.

Whereas the other metals add strength, palladium increases the plasticity of the glass and prevents cracks from spreading.
The end of broken glass? Scientists have created glass tougher than steel out of five elements, including the rare metal palladium

New Metallic Glass Stronger and Tougher Than Steel

The resulting material, called DH3, reacts totally differently to normal glass when you subject it to stresses like bending: Where normal glass would quickly form a fracture, which would then run speedily through the material leading to a catastrophic break, the palladium glass forms many "shear bands"--where the glass and metal materials inside it slide over each other, absorbing much of the stress energy, before they fail in the formation of cracks. As a result the glass behaves much more plastically than like a glass, and can bend very significantly before it breaks.

In fact the glass is actually tougher (in the physics sense, meaning its resistance to fracture) and stronger (meaning resistance to flexing or stretching) than any other known material.

Caltech-Led Team Creates Damage-Tolerant Metallic Glass - Caltech Media Relations

Glassy palladium rods, with diameters ranging from 3 to 6 mm.

A transmission electron micrograph shows the amorphous structure of glassy palladium. (The area shown is 10 nm x 10 nm.)

A notched, glassy palladium sample does not shatter after severe bending, despite the generation of multiple cracks.

Typical strengths and elastic limits for various materials. Metallic glasses are unique.