Polymers can be formed using simple, fast, and easy methods. Glass, however, is more challenging. If glass could be shaped using polymer processing techniques, a variety of intricate, optically transparent objects with high mechanical, thermal, and chemical resistance could be fabricated.
In their article in Advanced Materials, Dr. Bastian E. Rapp and colleagues from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) reveal a solid silica nanocomposite termed “Glassomer”, which can be processed using high-throughput fabrication technologies into optical-grade fused silica glass.
Dr. Bastian E. Rapp: “High-quality fused silica glass is among the most important materials in academic research and industrial applications, with examples ranging from the life sciences all the way to optics and photonics applications.”
Dr. Dorothea Helmer: “But glasses, and especially high-purity fused silica glasses, are extremely difficult to structure.”
Frederik Kotz: “We have developed a new nanocomposite, which makes glass structuring as simple and fast as polymer processing. These new materials come as a liquid or a solid.”
With Glassomer, highly detailed functional objects such as nuts, bolts, and diffractive optical elements are structured at submicron resolution using high-throughput fabrication techniques.