Transparent armor could be used to ruggedize smartphones: report

What's better than glass? A special ceramic called spinel, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which has been researching the technology for the past 10 years. It's actually a mineral called magnesium aluminate, according to Jas Sanghera, 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," Sanghera said in a news release.

There are a lot of applications for the material, including watches and consumer electronics like smartphones. The military may even want to use spinel as transparent armor for vehicles and face shields. For more, see this NRL news release.