“Topological Engineering of Ultrastrong Glasses”

German Science Foundation – SPP1594

The priority program 1594 of the German Science Foundation shall lay the scientific basis for ab initio “Topological engineering” of inorganic oxide and metallic glasses with enhanced mechanical properties, where the term “topological engineering” is defined as a bottom-up approach of acquiring and applying scientific knowledge and tools to the design of glasses. The topological scale, in this context, comprises the short- and mid-range structural architecture. Tools are e.g. potentials and spatial relations between constituents on the atomistic level, the generic design of specific short- and mid-range topology, packing density, molecular interactions at surfaces, and their consequences on meso- and macro-scale processes under mechanical load. The consequent multi-material approach (metallic and oxide glasses) arises from the similarity of topological considerations and expected synergies between potential toughening mechanisms and design strategies. “Enhancement of mechanical properties” refers to the demonstration of an as-of-yet, in the considered materials class, unmatched profile of mechanical properties based on these generic design strategies, namely on the generalized demonstration of GPa glass strength.

Two major goals are envisioned which will, each in its own way, change the way in which the mechanical properties of glasses are presently considered. These are:

(a) a significant breakthrough in the understanding of the mechanical properties of disordered solids, overcoming empirical or semi-empirical approaches and, hence, providing concrete physical and chemical tools for the dedicated design of stiffness, strength and toughness of inorganic and metallic glasses, and

(b) overcoming the step towards glasses with GPa strength by demonstrating defect-tolerant materials and toughening strategies based on ab initio understanding of the interplay between stress fields and volume and surface topology – moving from strength levels of <0.01 towards 0.05-0.1 times Young’s modulus E.

The program is coordinated by L. Wondraczek.