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Water Strengthening of Silica Glass

S. M. Wiederhorn National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg

From work of Le Chatelier [1884], it is well known that chemical reactions that exhibit a change in volume are sensitive to the ambient pressure of the reaction. Increasing the pressure will alter the ratio of reactant products to reactants. If the change in volume is constrained, then such reactions can result in external stresses that affect the strength of the solid. These effects are applicable to silica glass, which increases in volume when reacting with water. In this talk, we discuss the possibility of using this effect to strengthen silica glass. We show that water penetration into the surface of silica glass can yield sufficient residual stress to significantly increase both the strength and toughness of the glass.