The US Naval Research Laboratory announced a major breakthrough in materials science on Thursday. After decades of research and development, the NRL has created a transparent, bulletproof material that can be molded into virtually any shape. This material, known as Spinel, is made from a synthetic powdered clay that is heated and pressed under vacuum (aka sintered) into transparent sheets. "Spinel is actually a mineral, it's magnesium aluminate," Dr. Jas Sanghera, who leads the research, said in a statement. "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."