“Glass and glass-ceramics are incredible materials, but like everything, they have limitations, and one of the fundamental questions glass poses is why it shatters in certain situations,” said Roland Langfeld, Ph.D. and research fellow for SCHOTT. “These three scientists have spent years studying the physical properties of glass in order to comprehensively understand the circumstances under which glass breaks, and how. By better answering these important questions, researchers, scientists, and engineers can advance designs in dozens of industries, from consumer electronics to energy generation.”
In its normal state, a piece of glass has microscopic cracks on its surface, and when glass is subjected to critical tensile stress, these micro-cracks continue fracturing and cause the glass to break. Wiederhorn has spent decades analyzing why glass cracks and ultimately breaks. On a practical level, his pioneering work is the scientific basis for ensuring the reliability of glass windows in airplanes, spacecraft and related industrial applications.
“Wiederhorn’s work to explain the fundamentals of fatigue in glass and his persistence in understanding crack growth has dramatically changed our scientific thinking about the strength of glass, the mechanical testing and design of special-purpose glass, and the ability to predict the performance of advanced glasses,” said Professor Tanguy Rouxel, Board of Trustees member of the Ernst Abbe Fund.
The award-winning Japanese and French scientists also study glass’s mechanical properties. Professor Yoshida was honored for his outstanding research of the elastic behavior of glass surfaces under mechanical stress, how these stresses result in cracks, and other defects that affect its strength. Guin was recognized for his work on nanoscale aspects of crack growth and fatigue thresholds, as well as structure-property relationships of mechanical properties in glass, including hardness, toughness and scratch resistance.
Established in 1991, the Otto Schott Research Award has been conferred to researchers and scientists every two years by the Ernst Abbe Fund. The award bears the name of Otto Schott, the founder of modern glass science.