Glass has been used in the production of art for over two thousand years, but it has come to be considered a relic from an earlier era.
Now a team of scientists are taking a different approach.
“The glass industry is very old.
It’s been around for thousands of years,” says Mark A. Miller, a professor of glass and materials science at the University of Pennsylvania.
“It has been there, and people have used it for a long time.”
Miller and his colleagues are using a new technique called “optically-assisted optical bonding,” or OAB, to create a new type of glass called “glass nickel” — a material that has a higher melting point and an easier time forming crystals.
The researchers say it’s the first time the material has been made by using a “hard” glass — a glass that can’t be “taken apart and put back together again” — instead of glass.
The new material can be used in a wide range of applications.
Miller and other researchers are using it to make “super-thin” films that are thinner than 1 centimetre (0.5 inches) thick.
They’re also using it in glasses for making solar cells, and it’s being used to create “glass-like” materials that can be stacked on top of each other for building stronger structures.
“When we think of glass, we think about the fact that it’s a really strong, lightweight, strong material,” Miller says.
“And we’re actually using this to create super-thin, light-weight glass materials that are incredibly lightweight and light.”
Glass is also a key ingredient in a range of technologies, including cameras, cellphones, and solar cells.
“We have a really great understanding of the interactions between glass and silicon,” says study co-author Peter R. Ouellet, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
“But we have not quite figured out how to make it a material to go into the materials for nanotechnology applications.
So we’re trying to find a way to create this glass that’s really light-based, has a very low energy consumption, and is very stable and durable.”
The researchers created a “golden state” of glass that has lower melting point, easier crystal formation, and a lower melting rate than normal glass.
This allows the glass to form crystals faster, allowing it to be used as a semiconductor, a process that uses the atoms in semiconductors to make things like transistors.
Miller says the material is currently being tested in the lab.
“If we can make this material in the laboratory and show it works, that’s a big step forward,” he says.
Miller hopes the research could help bring down the cost of the glass industry.
“Right now it’s not cheap enough to make the glass, so we have to get it to the manufacturing scale,” he said.
“Now we have a way of making glass that is extremely stable, is really easy to work with, and then you can actually go to the marketplace and get it.”
The new glass is made by “bonding” a piece of glass to a silicon substrate.
This bonding process involves mixing a solution of sodium hydroxide and sodium chloride.
This is the same chemical that makes up silicon carbide, and the process uses less energy than traditional bonding.
“This material has all of the properties of the silicon carbides that we know and love,” Miller explains.
Miller says this process is easier than traditional methods because the sodium hydrate is mixed in the right amount. “
Glass can be made by the same process, and you can just use a very simple process to make glass that meets all the standards that you want for glass.”
Miller says this process is easier than traditional methods because the sodium hydrate is mixed in the right amount.
“You’re essentially mixing it in and then using the reaction to make this super-light glass,” he explains.
Miller is also working on a different type of “glass that’s made from glass minerals that you can also mix into the solution,” such as gold.
“So these materials are going to be really interesting for applications where you want to use glass in a very specific way, or where you need to use a certain amount of glass,” Miller said.
But this new technique could also help make glass a viable material for many other applications, including medical devices.
Miller thinks this new glass could be used for medical devices, because glass is incredibly strong and can be easily manufactured into parts.
“There’s no reason you can’t make glass like silicon carbiding for medical purposes,” Miller explained.
“That’s a very interesting technology.”
This research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, and an international consortium.