Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Glass Can Replace Expensive Crystals in Some Lasers

08.10.2003


...and bring high power to small packages


"Metal droplet levitated inside the Electrostatic Levitator (ESL). The ESL uses static electricity to suspend an object (about 2-3 mm in diameter) inside a vacuum chamber while a laser heats the sample until it melts. This lets scientists record a wide range of physical properties without the sample contacting the container or any instruments, conditions that would alter the readings. The Electrostatic Levitator is one of several tools used in NASA’s microgravity materials science program."
Credit: NASA


"The Electrostatic Levitator (ESL) Facility established at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) supports NASA’s Microgravity Materials Science Research Program. NASA materials science investigations include ground-based, flight definition and flight projects. Flight definition projects, with demanding science concept review schedules, receive highest priority for scheduling experiment time in the Electrostatic Levitator (ESL) Facility."
Credit: NASA



Researchers have developed a new family of glasses that will bring higher power to smaller packages in lasers and optical devices and provide a less-expensive alternative to many other optical glasses and crystals, like sapphire. Called REAl(tm) Glass (Rare-earth - Aluminum oxide), the materials are durable, provide a good host for atoms that improve laser performance, and may extend the range of wavelengths that a single laser can currently produce.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Containerless Research, Inc. (CRI), based in the Northwestern University Evanston Research Park in Illinois, recently developed the REAl(tm) Glass manufacturing process. NSF is now supporting the company to develop the glasses for applications in power lasers, surgical lasers, optical communications devices, infrared materials, and sensors that may detect explosives and toxins.


"NSF funded the technology at a stage when there were very few companies or venture capitalists that would have made the choice to invest," says Winslow Sargeant, the NSF officer who oversees CRI’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award. "We supported the REAl Glass research because we saw there was innovation there," adds Sargeant. "They are a great company with a good technology, so we provided seed money to establish the technology’s feasibility. Right now, we can say the feasibility is clear, and they’re one step closer to full-scale manufacturability," he says.

CRI originally developed the glasses with funding from NASA. The research used containerless processing techniques, including a specialized research facility-the Electrostatic Levitator-at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. With the NASA device, the researchers levitated the materials using static electricity and then heated the substances to extremely high temperatures. In that process, the materials were completely protected against contact with a surrounding container or other sources of contamination.

"The research that led to the development of REAl Glass concerned the nature and properties of ’fragile’ liquids, substances that are very sensitive to temperature and have a viscosity [or, resistance to flow] that can change rapidly when the temperature drops," says Richard Weber, the CRI principal investigator on the project.

REAl(tm) Glass, like many other glasses, is made from a supercooled liquid. This means that the liquid cooled quickly enough to prevent its atoms from organizing and forming a crystal structure. At lower temperatures, such as room temperature, the atoms are "fixed" in this jumbled, glassy state. In REAl(tm) Glass, the glass making process also provides a mechanism for incorporating rare-earth elements in a uniform way. This quality makes REAl Glass particularly attractive for laser applications.

After CRI scientists spent several years on fundamental research into fragile liquids, NSF provided funds to develop both patented glasses and proprietary manufacturing processes for combining the glass components in commercial quantities and at a much lower cost than for levitation melting. Using high temperature melting and forming operations, CRI is making REAl Glass in 10 mm thick rods and plates, establishing a basis for inexpensive, large scale production of sheet and rod products.

"The REAl(tm) Glass products are a new family of optical materials," says Weber, who adds that CRI is already meeting with businesses to talk about requirements for laser, infrared window, and other optical applications and supplying finished products or licensing the material for use.

"The REAl(tm) Glass technology combines properties of competing materials into one [material]," says NSF’s Sargeant. "With these glasses," he adds, "researchers can design smaller laser devices, because of the high power density that can be achieved, and can provide small, high-bandwidth devices for applications in the emerging fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) telecom market."

Because the glass can incorporate a variety of rare-earth elements into its structure, CRI can craft the glasses to yield specific properties, such as the ability to tune a laser across multiple light wavelengths. The ability to tune the light wavelength can have important implications for the lasers used in dental procedures and surgery, providing more control for operations involving skin shaping or cauterization.

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research is supporting CRI’s research into applications, including materials for infrared waveguides and sensors needed to identify chemical components. CRI is also continuing basic research on fragile oxide liquids, which they believe still offer much potential for generating new materials, and ultimately, optical devices.

Josh Chamot | NSF
Further information:
http://www.containerless.com
http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Serendipity uncovers borophene's potential
23.02.2017 | Northwestern University

nachricht Switched-on DNA
20.02.2017 | Arizona State University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>