Self-healing glass: a cracking discovery from Japan

In this picture taken on December 25, 2017, Yu Yanagisawa, a chemistry researcher at the University of Tokyo, presses together two pieces of resin glass together to repair them at the university's lab in Tokyo. The Japanese researcher has developped -- by accident-- a new type of glass that can be repaired simply by pressing it back together after it has cracked. (AFP)
Updated 28 December 2017
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Self-healing glass: a cracking discovery from Japan

TOKYO: A Japanese researcher has developed — by accident-- a new type of glass that can be repaired simply by pressing it back together after it cracks.
The discovery opens the way for super-durable glass that could triple the lifespan of everyday products like car windows, construction materials, fish tanks and even toilet seats.
Yu Yanagisawa, a chemistry researcher at the University of Tokyo, made the breakthrough by chance while investigating adhesives that can be used on wet surfaces.
Does this mean you will soon be able to repair those cracks in your smartphone with a quick press of the fingers? Or surreptitiously piece together a shattered beer glass dropped after one pint too many?
Well, not quite. Not now and in fact, not in the near future.
But it does open a window of opportunity for researchers to explore ways to make more durable, lightweight, glass-like items, like car windows.
In a lab demonstration for AFP, Yanagisawa broke a glass sample into two pieces.
He then held the cross sections of the two pieces together for about 30 seconds until the glass repaired itself, almost resembling its original form.
To demonstrate its strength, he then hung a nearly full bottle of water from the piece of glass — and it stayed intact.
The organic glass, made of a substance called polyether thioureas, is closer to acrylic than mineral glass, which is used for tableware and smartphone screens.
Other scientists have demonstrated similar properties by using rubber or gel materials but Yanagisawa was the first to demonstrate the self-healing concept with glass.
The secret lies in the thiourea, which uses hydrogen bonding to make the edges of the shattered glass self-adhesive, according to Yanagisawa’s study.
But what use is all this if it cannot produce a self-healing smartphone screen?
“It is not realistically about fixing what is broken, more about making longer-lasting resin glass,” Yanagisawa told AFP.
Glass products can fracture after years of use due to physical stress and fatigue.
“When a material breaks, it has already had many tiny scars that have accumulated to result in major destruction,” Yanagisawa said.
“What this study showed was a path toward making a safe and long-lasting resin glass,” which is used in a wide range of everyday items.
“We may be able to double or triple the lifespan of something that currently lasts for 10 or 20 years,” he said.


King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology unveils self-guided Black Shark boat at 38th GITEX Technology Week

The development of the Black Shark smart boat is part of a KACST initiative to localize and transform transport technology and logistics, to help achieve the aims of Vision 2030. (SPA)
Updated 20 October 2018
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King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology unveils self-guided Black Shark boat at 38th GITEX Technology Week

  • These trucks are equipped with electronic pairing technologies, which effectively improve the shipping and distributing of goods, reduce human error

JEDDAH: King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has unveiled its Black Shark self-guided boat at the 38th GITEX Technology Week in Dubai. The vessel, which can carry out coastal surveillance and many other tasks, was developed in collaboration with Taqnia for Robotics and Smart Systems.
The development of the craft is part of a KACST initiative to localize and transform transport technology and logistics, to help achieve the aims of Vision of 2030.
The boat includes sensor systems that allow it to monitor and create a 3D map of a 200-meter area surrounding the boat, and automated control technology that gives it the ability to navigate independently and avoid collisions without human input. It can also be equipped with a flexible range of weapons, acting as a firearms platform that uses gyroscopic self-balancing technology. It has the ability to survey beaches at a range of 15 kilometers, in addition to accurately identifying its precise location with a margin of error of less than 20 centimeters using differential GPS, as well as specifying, monitoring and tracking targets.
The Black Shark also has long-range radar that covers up to 150 kilometers, and a telecommunication system to track its location, monitor its status and connect to multiple domains through command centers that allow wireless communication and remote control. It is fitted with a digital camera powered by electro-optic and infrared technology that can produce HD-quality video, and also has night vision capability.
As part of its initiative to develop transport technology and logistics, KACST has also worked on automated control technology, included self-driving heavy-duty trucks, with the University of California, Berkeley. These trucks are equipped with electronic pairing technologies, which effectively improve the shipping and distributing of goods, reduce human error, preserve resources, and reduce harmful emissions and fuel consumption.
The same technology can also, for example, transform a four-wheel-drive vehicle into a remote-controlled vehicle equipped with video cameras, infrared technology, a microphone and a control device wirelessly connected to a command center, where an operator can guide it using images from the video cameras.