Los Alamos shifts research from nuclear weapons to bendable glass

Los Alamos National Lab, known for its nuclear weapons research in the last century, is now investing bendable glass for use in mobile devices, according to a report by Computerworld.

The national lab is working on ways to develop more elastic types of glass that will bend instead of shatter when dropped or stepped on.

"In an ideal world, we'd have materials that are very, very strong--that can withstand a lot of stress and have a very large elastic region. And ideally when they finally do undergo this change, they'd bend instead of shatter. We're looking, in this particular work, at what are the features that will enable that," Seth Imhoff, a materials scientist at the lab, tells Computerworld.

Los Alamos is working on "metallic glass," which is composed of metallic atoms in the irregular atomic arrangement seen in glass. Such bendable glass could be used to make smartphones and tablets more durable.

"Users would be happier if their phones and tablets were more durable. It would increase their lifespan. Vendors would have fewer sales, but more satisfied customers," says Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research.

A couple of years ago, Los Alamos announced that it had developed quantum cryptography to secure smartphones. Researchers at the lab developed a "revolutionary technology entitled 'QKarD' that implements the quantum mechanical laws of physics rather than complex mathematical problems to encrypt information," the lab explained in a fact sheet.

For more:
- read the Computerworld article
- check out the Los Alamos fact sheet

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