Scientists 'taught' glass to illuminate itself and create heat

The history of glass production and processing goes back approximately 3,500 years. However, so far some

shortcomings of existing production technologiesglass is not completely overcome. For example, only parts with rounded edges can be made from molten glass. When precise shapes with sharp edges are required, the material needs costly regrinding. To create microstructures in the laboratory, glass manufacturers often have to resort to etching processes using dangerous acids. In addition, it is very difficult to drill holes in "classic" glass.

To overcome such limitations, engineers fromDresden have adapted some technologies that were previously typical for ceramics and plastics. They add graphite to glass powder. The mixture of glass graphite powder is used to create a so-called feedstock, which is then placed into a mold in an injection molding machine to create precise geometry and microstructure.

Thanks to new molding possibilities, glass can be processed at much lower temperatures and mixed with fillers, giving it new functions.

So glass powder can be combined withcolored pigments or phosphorescent particles. The result is fluorescent glass components that have a wide range of applications. With it, you can mark escape routes in dark conditions even after a power outage, illuminate the hands and displays of watches or the fittings of vehicles and aircraft.

Among other things, this glass can be used for the production of electrically conductive and self-heating glass microreactors for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

"It opens up new perspectives for thismaterial,” emphasizes the head of the department, Dr. Tassilo Moritz. For example, glass could limit the massive use of plastic for many small everyday items in favor of sustainable solutions: glass can be painted, shaped and given other functions.

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