New glass harder than a diamond has applications for multiple industries

Scientists in China have created a new type of glass that is harder than a diamond. Diamond is one of the hardest known materials and is often used to cut harder materials. Typically diamond can cut glass, but the new glass developed by researchers in northern China could scratch a diamond.The product is being called AM-III currently, but the name could change down the road. The glass is described as having a yellowish tint, and it's made exclusively of carbon. AM-III glass has a Vickers hardness of 113 GPa. For comparison, a natural diamond has a Vickers hardness of between 50 and 70 GPa, while artificial diamonds can reach a hardness of 100 GPa.

The new type of glass has potential uses in several industries, despite likely being years away from mass production. For example, the material could be used to create bulletproof glass in the realm of 20 to 100 times stronger than mainstream materials currently used. It also has potential use in the technology industry.

AM-III is a semiconductor almost as efficient as silicon. With its high efficiency, the material may one day find use in constructing extremely durable solar panels able to withstand large hail and other impacts. AM-III differs from normal pieces of glass, which are typically weak, because it is glass with crystals inside. When viewed under a microscope, the material has an ordered structure similar to a crystal.

However, when viewed with less magnification, the structure appears highly disordered. Researchers say the combination of order and disorder gives the material its unusual traits. Project scientists say their creation has the highest portion of atoms and molecules in order compared to other materials they experimented with, which gives AM-III its strength.