How Shatterproof Glass Was Accidentally Created


One day in his lab, chemist Edouard Benedictus was climbing a ladder and accidentally knocked a glass flask off a shelf. He heard the flask shatter, but upon inspecting it he noticed that the shards of glass were still held together, holding its initial shape. Thinking about how this could be, Benedictus' assistant explained that the flask had cellulose nitrate (a liquid plastic) that had evaporated inside of it, leaving a thin film behind.


Benedictus had previously read an article about how many drivers in car accidents are seriously injured by the windshield glass shattering, and he had an idea: what if he made glassware with cellulose nitrate to make it more break-resistant?

He spent the next 24 hours designing and testing different possibilities, and by the next day he revealed his first piece of shatterproof glass.

But it didn't get traction in commercial manufacturing until World War 1. Since his product was inexpensive and easy to manufacture, it became useful for gas mask lenses for the military. Benedictus' glass gave them the protection they needed in extreme conditions. After that, the shatterproof glass started to appear in the windshields of cars, and has since become a versatile product for many industries.

Mitch Moffit