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 Lowering the Heat Makes New Materials Possible While Saving Energy
26.09.2016 | Penn State Materials Research Institute

nachricht Scientists Find Twisting 3-D Raceway for Electrons in Nanoscale Crystal Slices
26.09.2016 | Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

Im Focus: Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.

In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...

Im Focus: New laser joining technologies at ‘K 2016’ trade fair

Every three years, the plastics industry gathers at K, the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will also be attending again and presenting many innovative technologies, such as for joining plastics and metals using ultrashort pulse lasers. From October 19 to 26, you can find the Fraunhofer ILT at the joint Fraunhofer booth SC01 in Hall 7.

K is the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. As in previous years, the organizers are expecting 3,000 exhibitors and more than...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

ICPE in Graz for the seventh time

20.09.2016 | Event News

Using mathematical models to understand our brain

16.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stronger turbine blades with molybdenum silicides

26.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Scientists Find Twisting 3-D Raceway for Electrons in Nanoscale Crystal Slices

26.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Lowering the Heat Makes New Materials Possible While Saving Energy

26.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>