Evolves

Inside a lab in Straumanis-James Hall, graduate student Erica Ronchetto, CerE’11, is systematically breaking soda lime silicate glass — the kind found in most bottles, windows and light bulbs — in hopes of finding ways to make it stronger.

Ronchetto begins by drawing molten glass into thin flexible fibers, not much thicker than a human hair. The process looks like dipping honey from a jar. She bends the fibers and clamps them into a device that squeezes that bend until the fiber snaps, then measures its breaking point. During the process, she exposes the fibers to varying temperatures and humidity levels to see how these variables change that breaking point.

Water is key to the weakness of the glass.

“Humidity in the air causes glass strength to degrade,” Ronchetto says. “It can worsen fatigue and speed up aging.”

“If glass is exposed to humidity long enough, defects will begin to form on the surface,” adds Richard Brow, Curators’ Professor of materials science and engineering. “Those defects eventually lead to weakness. That’s why the same piece of glass will be stronger in Minnesota in the winter than it would be in Louisiana in the summer. It all comes down to humidity.”

By studying the chemical composition of the glass, they hope to eventually modify its surface to reduce the aging and fatigue water can cause.

The end result, Brow and Ronchetto hope, is a stronger, lighter-weight glass that lasts much longer than today’s glasses.

Around the Puck

Q&A: Miners got game

What was the most memorable sports team during your time on campus? As part of his research for the S&T 150th history book, Larry Gragg, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus of history and political science, asked you to share your memories. Here are a few of your answers.

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Honoring new academy members

In October, 12 alumni and friends were inducted into Missouri S&T academies. Academy membership recognizes careers of distinction and invites members to share their wisdom, influence and resources with faculty and students. Some academies hold induction ceremonies in the fall, others in the spring.

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Boosting cyber-physical security

A wide array of complex systems that rely on computers — from public water supply systems and electric grids to chemical plants and self-driving vehicles — increasingly come under not just digital but physical attacks. Bruce McMillin, professor and interim chair of computer science at Missouri S&T, is looking to change that by developing stronger safeguards […]

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MXene discovery could improve energy storage

In spite of their diminutive size, 2-D titanium carbide materials known as MXenes are “quite reactive” to water, a discovery S&T researchers say could have implications for energy storage and harvesting applications such as batteries, supercapacitors and beyond. Their findings were published in 2018 in the American Chemical Society journal Inorganic Chemistry.

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A faster charge for electric vehicles

One drawback of electric vehicles (EVs) is the time it takes to charge them. But what if you could plug in your EV and fully charge it as quickly as it takes to fill up a conventional car with gasoline? Missouri S&T researchers, in collaboration with three private companies, are working to make speedy charging […]

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