Researchers at Aalborg University and Corning have devised a way to determine what effect additives will have on glass without actually making the glass. Glassmakers have known for thousands of years that additives to the glass formula produce glass with different characteristics. The process of developing new glass “recipes” is always conducted on a trial-and-error basis.
Process will shorten glass development cycle
The resulting glass is then tested to determine what properties it possesses as a result of changes to the glass formula. With thousands of possible combinations, finding glass with specific properties is almost a random event. In addition, it is difficult to know how additives will affect the strength, density and melting point of the glass.
The researchers combined a number of computer models to determine what they’ve called the “genome” of glass. The models allow the researchers to create virtual combinations of materials, and accurately predict the physical properties of the resulting glass. The models speed the process of creating new glass mixtures, and allow the researchers to design glass formulas that will produce specific properties. The process has already been used to create damage-resistant glass.
The approach is important not only because it can predict the end-result of glass formulas, but also it can predict the manufacturing characteristics of the glass, like a particular formula’s viscosity and melting point. The ability to predict both the manufacturing requirements and the resulting product can help scientists develop “designer” glass for specific applications more quickly and with fewer surprises.
While much is already understood about glass, this represents a major advance in material development, and promises to lead to exciting advancements in glass manufacturing.
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Photo Credit: Alexey Kljatov, via FreeImages.com