ALFRED, N.Y. — Airplanes of the future may have glass wings but will be perfectly safe, predicts Bill LaCourse, professor of ceramics at Alfred University's College of Ceramics. Glass is one type of ceramic material.
Some of the new types of glass that LaCourse is developing are radically different from traditional glass. Like polymers, they can form fibers; they can be formed at room temperatures from liquid solution; they can be porous. They won't break even when nails are driven into the finished products.
Such glasses may have unusual new uses, in addition to airplane wings, according to LaCourse. The porous ones might permit desalination of sea water. They may permit lenses to be miniaturized. They may make possible lightweight glass table tops. And they could provide better insulation in storm windows.