Breakthrough Glass Innovation: A New Era for High-Tech Industries

Breakthrough Glass Innovation: A New Era for High-Tech Industries

Researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) have developed a groundbreaking type of glass that exhibits unique and seemingly contradictory properties. This glass acts as a powerful adhesive while maintaining high transparency. Forming spontaneously when in contact with water at room temperature, this innovative material has the potential to revolutionize various industries, including optics, electro-optics, satellite communications, remote sensing, and biomedicine.

Discovery and Development

The discovery was made by a team of international researchers led by PhD student Gal Finkelstein-Zuta and Professor Ehud Gazit from TAU’s Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Their research findings were published in the prestigious journal Nature.

Professor Gazit explains the process: "In our lab, we explore bio-convergence and utilize the remarkable properties of biology to create innovative materials. We specifically study sequences of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Typically, amino acids and peptides tend to form ordered structures with a periodic arrangement. However, during our research, we identified a unique peptide that behaves differently – it forms an amorphous, disordered structure characteristic of glass."

At a molecular level, glass is a liquid-like substance without a defined molecular order but with solid-like mechanical properties. Traditional glass manufacturing involves rapid cooling of molten materials to prevent crystallization, resulting in an amorphous state that grants unique optical, chemical, and mechanical properties. The TAU researchers found that an aromatic peptide consisting of a three-tyrosine sequence (YYY) forms a molecular glass spontaneously upon the evaporation of an aqueous solution at room temperature.

Unique Properties and Simple Formation

Gal Finkelstein-Zuta elaborates on the process: "Commercial glass is created through a process called vitrification, where molten materials are rapidly cooled to maintain an amorphous state. This requires significant energy. Conversely, our biological glass forms spontaneously at room temperature without the need for high heat or pressure. By simply dissolving a powder in water, the glass forms – much like making a drink mix. For instance, we created lenses from this glass by dropping a solution onto a surface and controlling its curvature and focus by adjusting the solution volume."

The TAU glass exhibits unique and even contradictory properties: it is extremely hard yet capable of self-repair at room temperature; it serves as a strong adhesive while remaining highly transparent across a wide spectral range, from visible light to the mid-infrared spectrum.

Potential Applications and Impact

Professor Gazit emphasizes the significance of their achievement: "This is the first successful creation of molecular glass under simple conditions. The properties of this glass are remarkable. It is incredibly strong and exceptionally transparent, more so than conventional glass. While typical silicate glass is transparent in the visible light range, our molecular glass extends its transparency deep into the infrared range. This makes it highly useful for applications in satellites, remote sensing, communications, and optics. Additionally, it functions as a strong adhesive, capable of bonding different glass types and self-repairing cracks. These properties, all derived from a single peptide, present immense potential for science and engineering."

This groundbreaking glass offers numerous potential applications, particularly in fields requiring advanced optical properties and robust adhesive capabilities. Its ability to self-repair and its transparency across a broad spectrum make it an attractive material for high-tech industries.

Future Prospects

The development of this innovative glass represents a significant advancement in materials science. Its unique combination of properties could lead to new applications and improve existing technologies. As further research and development continue, this glass could become a standard material in various high-tech industries, driving innovation and efficiency.


The research, titled “A self-healing multispectral transparent adhesive peptide glass,” was authored by Gal Finkelstein-Zuta, Zohar A. Arnon, Thangavel Vijayakanth, Or Messer, Orr Simon Lusky, Avital Wagner, Galit Zilberman, Ruth Aizen, Lior Michaeli, Sigal Rencus-Lazar, Sharon Gilead, Sudha Shankar, Mariela Jorgelina Pavan, Dor Aaron Goldstein, Shira Kutchinsky, Tal Ellenbogen, Benjamin A. Palmer, Amir Goldbourt, Maxim Sokol, and Ehud Gazit, and published on June 12, 2024, in Nature.