Developed by scientists from the University of Tokyo and Japan’s Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute, the new material is made using alumina, an oxide of aluminium.
Previous attempts to use alumina in glass have been unsuccessful as it tends to crystallise when it touches the sides of a container.
However, the research team used oxygen gas to push the materials into the air, and then used lasers to melt them, producing a glass that is colourless, transparent and extremely hard.
As well as being hard, the new material is also very thin, allowing mobile phone screens to become thinner and lighter than ever before.
Reporting their results in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers said that thinner and lighter glasses are desired “for the fabrication of windows in buildings and cars, cover glasses for smartphones”.
Dr Atsunobu Masuno, from the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo, told the Asahi Shinbun newspaper that he and his team were hoping to commercialise the technique within five years.