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Glass Shatters World Record

Posted on: 09/24/2013
The world’s thinnest sheet of glass, developed by scientists at Cornell University, has made the 2014 Guinness Book of World Records, and is featured as a breakthrough in the publication’s 21st Century Science feature.

Just two atoms in thickness, the glass was actually an accidental discovery that occurred while Cornell scientists were making graphene on copper foils in a quartz furnace. They noticed some “muck” on the graphene, and upon further inspection, found it to be composed of the elements of everyday glass—silicon and oxygen. They concluded that an air leak had caused the copper to react with the quartz, also made of silicon and oxygen. This produced the glass layer on the would-be pure graphene.

Besides its sheer novelty, the discovery may answer an 80-year-old question about the fundamental structure of glass—Why it behaves like a solid, even though it looks more like a liquid. The Cornell scientists have been able to use the glass to see and produce a picture of the arrangement of individual atoms in glass, which could be the key to unlocking this mystery.

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