When you bend anything, you stretch the bonds between atoms and force the little fellas to move about against their will. This image shows exactly that happening, inside a sheet of glass.
Just last month, scientists announced that they'd created the thinnest ever sheet of glass which was just two atoms thick. At the time they said it would allow them to carry out tests on the material that had never been possible in the past. We're already seeing the results.
The researchers, from the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science, have been bending their two-atom-thick glass and imaging the deformations of rearranging atoms in the silica glass. The overlaid color on the image above shows how the atoms moved when pressure was exerted. David Muller, one of the researchers, explains:
"No one has ever before been able to see how the atoms in a glass rearrange when you push on them. Lots of people have made computer simulations, but this is the experimental realization of what the glass community has been looking for a long, long time... You could say, we have identified some of the basic dance moves."
It't not just pretty, though: the researchers think that by understanding what happens at the this microscopic level, they'll be able to develop atom-by-atom designs for stronger glass panes. Time to move over, Gorilla, Glass. [Phys.Org]