Prince Rupert's drop

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Prince Rupert's drops (also known as Dutch or Batavian tears) are toughened glass beads created by dripping molten glass into cold water, which causes it to solidify into a tadpole-shaped droplet with a long, thin tail.

These droplets are characterized internally by very high residual stresses, which give rise to counter-intuitive properties, such as the ability to withstand a blow from a hammer or even a bullet on the bulbous end without breaking, while exhibiting explosive disintegration if the tail end is even slightly damaged, like being clipped with pliers. In nature, similar structures are produced under certain conditions in volcanic lava and are known as Pele's tears.

Prince Rupert's drops are produced by dropping molten glass drops into cold water. The water rapidly cools and solidifies the glass from the outside inward. This thermal quenching may be described using a simplified model of a rapidly cooled sphere.

Prince Rupert's drops are commonly used in pop-science demonstrations, since they're easy to manufacture and produce spectacular results. The "detonation" of a drop is so fast, that special high speed cameras are required to properly capture the disintegration.


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