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Video: Researchers Are Developing New Processes For Glass Production
Glass is a fascinating material. People have used it for centuries due to its transparency and extreme resistance to heat and acids. The chemical and optical properties of glass make it a popular material for micro components such as tiny optical lenses, tubes or complex microsystems for analyzing the smallest amounts of liquid.
However, the production of glass in microstructures is associated with high costs and effort. In order to structure glass in such a fine way, the use of hazardous chemicals and the use of a clean room are required. The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is said to have developed an alternative with "Liquid Glass".
Designing glass is as easy as baking cookies
KIT Scientist led by Dr. Bastian E. Rapp want to present the Liquid Glass at this year's Hannover Messe. The material they developed is viscous at room temperature and can be shaped into any shape, pre-hardened under light and burned out in the oven. Structuring glass components, the researchers explain, is almost as easy as baking cookies.
Nanocomposite hardens in a silicone mask
"With Liquid Glass we can realize all conceivable shapes, stack several components on top of each other and duplicate the components by casting," explains Rapp, who heads the "Neptun Lab" junior research group at KIT. The starting material for the process is a nanocomposite, a mixture of powdered glass and plastic that can be processed like plastic.
In order to give liquid glass the desired shape, the Karlsruhe researchers manufacture a precise silicone mask as a cast of the original component or 3D printing. You fill the glass-plastic mixture into it and let it harden under UV radiation. The silicone mask can then be removed without the component losing its assumed shape. Several such components can now be put together to form complex systems. In a kiln, the material burns out to pure glass and the components bond together.
According to the research institute, the components and systems manufactured in this way have the same chemical and physical properties as products made from conventional glass, the same transparency and an equally smooth surface. Liquid glass should also be able to realize complex structures in the micrometer range, such as closed cavities or channels. (kj)
Hannover Messe 2017: Hall 2, Stand B16
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Knights and metamaterials
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