Imagine a glass window that’s tough like armor, a camera lens that doesn’t get scratched in a sand storm, or a smartphone screen that doesn’t break when dropped. Except it’s not glass; it’s a special spinel that the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has been researching over the last 10 years.
“Spinel is actually a mineral; it’s magnesium aluminate,” said Jas Sanghera, Ph.D., who leads the research. “The advantage is it’s so much tougher, stronger, harder than glass. It provides better protection in more hostile environments—so it can withstand sand and rain erosion.”