From windows to tableware to fiber optics, oxide glasses are everywhere you look.

Oxide glasses (typically silica) are used frequently in modern day technologies because they have numerous desirable properties, including high transparency and low thermal conductivity. Despite their ubiquity, however, oxide glasses have one conspicuous shortcoming—they are brittle.

This latest study’s researchers come from Aalborg University in Denmark, Technical University of Denmark, and University of California, Los Angeles. The oxide glass they created, caesium aluminoborate, has shown fairly decent crack resistance in previous work. What pushed their glass to strikingly high crack resistance levels in the new study was a counterintuitive trick—the researchers aged the glass in a humid atmosphere.

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