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[image above] Case of a known flaw—impact fracture from deer antlers at NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. Credit: G. Quinn

Glass has a fatal flaw—it breaks. Sometimes dramatically, often catastrophically, almost always “unexpectedly.”

But does glass really break unexpectedly? What are the glass engineering possibilities if it were possible to know more about the flaws and their gestation?

The Usable Glass Strength Coalition, which grew out of the Glass Manufacturing Industry Council, plans to attack this problem with a powerful weapon—research.

The UGSC just issued a request for proposals to answer the fundamental question, “Where and how do flaws nucleate in glass?” They are seeking proposals that address the following research topics:

  • What is the nature of the surface defect structures and reactive sites?
  • What is the link between surface structure and adsorption water and other environmental species?
  • What are the changes in surface structure and surface chemistry that occur as glasses are aged from pristine conditions?
  • What are the mechanisms behind the reduction in strength due to zero stress corrosion/aging?
  • What are the differences between a fracture surface and a melt surface?
  • Determination of sites with a predisposition to flaw initiation and an understanding of how to change their fate.

The funding level is in the $60,00–$100,000 range, depending on the project scope for a one-year, potentially renewable effort.

This will be the UGSC’s second funded research project. The first project with Pennsylvania State University (PI Seong H. Kim) was just renewed for a third and fourth year. The aim of the Kim’s study is to characterize the distribution and chemical nature of reactive surface sites on glass that nucleate strength-controlling defects.

Proposals are due March 1, 2016.

For more information, contact UGSC technical director Alastair N. Cormack or GMIC executive director, Robert Weisenberger LIpetz.