The Thinnest Glass

Graduate student Pinshane Huang and Professor David Muller with a model that depicts the atomic structure of glass.

Image Credit:, via CC

Sometimes strange discoveries are done by chance. Imagine their surprise when researchers at Cornell and Germany’s University of Ulm discovered that they had unknowingly created the thinnest glass. Their discovery is recorded in Guinness Book of World Records.

David A. Muller, professor of applied and engineering physics and director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell  found it. Glass is made up of silicon and oxygen molecules. Here, the glass is so thin that  the individual molecules are clearly visible under a microscope.

So, what led to the formation of this glass? The scientists were actually making graphene. It is different form of carbon. This used some copper foils in a quartz furnace. While they were working on it, they noticed some dirt. The dirt was actually glass made up of silicon and oxygen.

Where did silicon and oxygen come from? Some  air leaked and caused the copper to react with the quartz which produced silicon and oxygen. This produced the glass layer on the would-be pure graphene.

Amazing  isn’t it?


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