'Infinitely recyclable': How innovations like bendable glass will impact the future

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Friday, January 26, 2024
'Infinitely recyclable': How innovations like bendable glass will impact the future
From holding radioactive waste to peering farther into the universe, National Geographic details how glass is a part of our past, present and future.

From eyeglasses to phone screens and cameras to televisions, glass is everywhere in our lives. This ever-present material has been in use for more than 4,000 years.

Scientists recently forged bendable glass, allowing phone screens, as well as other curved displays, to fold. Experts are calling it a game changer.

A paper-thin sheet demonstrates the flexibility of Corning
A paper-thin sheet demonstrates the flexibility of Corning's bendable glass: an innovation that allows for foldable phone screens and curved automotive displays.
National Geographic

National Geographic's February edition explores how important the material, that we may take for granted, is a part of our every-day life and how it will severely impact the future.

"Glass is one of those materials," said Christopher Payne, Nat Geo contributing photographer. "It's like our clothing. We don't even know it's there and it surrounds us. It's so ubiquitous that it's just hiding in plain sight wherever we look. It's embedded in all kinds of things that we're not even aware of.

Technicians in upstate New York pour a batch of molten glass at Corning's "test kitchen." Corning tries new recipes to enhance features such as strength, color and optical clarity.
National Geographic
Workers at Japan
Workers at Japan's Chiba Kogaku glass factory break a clay pot to extract a 1,500-pound chunk of a highly pure glass called E6.
National Geographic

Payne, who spent years documenting glass innovation in Japan, details how this pervasive material is being used to store radioactive waste and peer farther and farther into the depths of the universe.

"This ancient material, they keep finding new uses for it, new ways to push its limits," Payne said. It's also infinitely recyclable, this organic material that can be used over and over again."

For more on this story on the glass revolution, visit Natgeo.com. (A subscription may be required to view the content.)

National Geographic

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