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Advanced Materials: Processing Glass Like a Polymer

KIT Materials Scientists Develop New Forming Technology – Publication in Advanced Materials
Glassomer kann wie Kunststoff gefräst, gedreht, gelasert oder in CNC-Maschinen bearbeitet werden (Foto: Markus Breig, KIT)
Glassomer can be milled, turnered, lasered or processed in CNC machines – just like a conventional polymer (Photo: Markus Breig, KIT)

Pure quartz glass is highly transparent and resistant to thermal, physical, and chemical impacts. These are optimum prerequi-sites for use in optics, data technology or medical engineering. For efficient, high-quality machining, however, adequate pro-cesses are lacking. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technolo-gy (KIT) have developed a forming technology to structure quartz glass like a polymer. This innovation is reported in the journal Advanced Materials.

“It has always been a big challenge to combine highly pure quartz glass and its excellent properties with a simple structuring technol-ogy,” says Dr. Bastian E. Rapp, Head of the NeptunLab interdisci-plinary research group of KIT’s Institute of Microstructure Technolo-gy (IMT). Rapp and his team develop new processes for industrial glass processing. “Instead of heating glass up to 800 °C for form-ing or structuring parts of glass blocks by laser processing or etch-ing, we start with the smallest glass particles,” says the mechanical engineer. The scientists mix glass particles of 40 nanometers in size with a liquid polymer, form the mix like a sponge cake, and harden it to a solid by heating or light exposure. The resulting solid con-sists of glass particles in a matrix at a ratio of 60 to 40 vol%. The polymers act like a bonding agent that retains the glass particles at the right locations and, hence, maintains the shape.

Full Text: Press Release 061/2018

 

sur, 17.05.2018