Glassmakers are already manufacturing bendable glass that’s thinner than a human hair and half a kilometre long, and they say foldable glass is just around the corner. German glassmaker Schott is now mass-manufacturing glass that’s ultrathin, strong, and smooth. Electronics can be made on it, and it flexes like plastic. The first consumer product to use Schott’s new glass is the fingerprint sensor on a smartphone made by LeTV, a large video-streaming company in China. Company representatives hope that this and other niche applications will give the new material a foothold while industrial designers play around with it. A recent MIT Technology Review reveals more details on the recent progress on ultra-thin glass making.

To make glass thinner and thinner—and therefore more flexible—glassmakers have to figure out how to strengthen it. Schott is the first company to make ultrathin glass that can be chemically strengthened by ion exchange. The glass is drawn down out of a huge, molten tank into sheets and run through rollers. It is then run through a bath of molten potassium. Smaller sodium ions leave the glass and are replaced by larger potassium ions, creating compression within the glass itself.

The revolution of new materials is a key-element of the circular economy shift. The advances in materials’ science will play an important role to recycling and waste management. The future of materials’ technologies (or the technologies of the future of materials) will reshape recycling and waste management in an astonishing way.A Wasteless Future will definitely be created by new (and still) unimaginable materials.

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