A team led by scientist Ludwik Leibler recently published findings on a new material that has the malleability of glass but the strength and versatility of organic resin.
Traditional resins are renowned for their building and manufacturing applications, but once cured cannot be reshaped into other forms – meaning repair and reuse are all but impossible. Silica (glass) and a few other inorganic compounds, however, have transitional phases that allow them to be reformed under high temperatures, but have, until now, lacked the strength and lightness of resins.
The network of molecules developed by the team allow for all the strengths of resin while preserving this glass transition property, preserving the cross-links between atoms that enable this malleability while maintaining insolubility.
The material can be either hard or elastic at room temperature, and its recyclable properties give it a strong advantage over comparable, thermosetting resins or – in certain applications – even metals or other materials like fiberglass. With its lightness and strength, this new resin opens up some interesting possibilities in the construction industry.
According to ScienceDaily, the team published their findings in the November issue of Science.