We can dance

Cornell University's David Muller, Ute Kaiser, of the University of Ulm, Germany, and colleagues have used an electron microscope to bend, deform and melt a one-molecule-thick sheet of silica glass to reveal what happens just before glass shatters for the first time. Their work reveals the dance of atoms rearranging under the stresses and strains and details appear in the journal Science. Even though glass is a common material, it is notoriously hard to study, said Pinshane Huang, a graduate student working with Muller and the paper’s first author. Glass is known as an amorphous solid because its atoms are rigid like a crystal but disordered like a liquid. This thinnest-ever glass gives us a new way of looking at glass and how it breaks, atom by atom, Huang said.