Why fused silica glass?
Fused silca is one of the most important high-perfomance materials and has many advantages like its outstanding optical transparancy in the ultraviolet, visible and infrared region as well as its high thermal and chemical stability.
Structuring fused silica glass is challenging and commonly done using wet chemical etching techniques which require hydrofluoric acid. Glassomer is a silica nanocomposite which comes as a liquid or a solid. As a liquid Glassomer (e.g. Glassomer L40) can be structured by room temperature replication or stereolithography 3D printing. As a solid Glassomer can be structured using classical subtactive structuring technologies like drilling, milling, lathing or simply carving with a knife. It can further be structured using thermal polymer molding technologies like nanoimprinting, thermoforming or high-throughput roll-to-roll replication. A final heat treatment turns the polymeric nanocomposites (green part) into high-quality transparent fused silica glass via thermal debinding (brown part) and sintering (fused silica glass).
The sintered Glassomer parts are chemically and physically indistinguishable from commercial fused silica glass. They show the same high optical transparancy in the UV, visible and infrared region combined with the high thermal and chemical stabililty as well as the same mechanical strength and hardness of commercial fused silica glass.
Glassomer allows for the first time to structure high quality fused silica glass using polymer processing technologies with resolutions of a few micrometers and a surface roughness of a few nanometers fully compatible with the demands of optics and photonics.
F. Kotz, N. Schneider, A. Striegel, A. Wolfschläger, N. Keller, M. Worgull, W. Bauer, D. Schild, M. Milich, C. Greiner, D. Helmer, B. E. Rapp: “Glassomer: Processing Fused Silica Glass like a Polymer”, Advanced Materials, 2018 | Link
F. Kotz, K. Arnold, W. Bauer, D. Schild, N. Keller, K. Sachsenheimer, T. M. Nargang, C. Richter, D. Helmer, B. E. Rapp: "Three-dimensional Printing of Transparent Fused Silica Glass", Nature, 544, 337-339, 2017 | Link | Video | Media Coverage
F. Kotz, K. Plewa, W. Bauer, N. Schneider, N. Keller, T. Nargang, D. Helmer, K. Sachsenheimer, M. Schäfer, M. Worgull, C. Greiner, C. Richter, B. E. Rapp: “Liquid Glass: A Facile Soft Replication Method for Structuring Glass”, Advanced Materials, 2016 | Link | Video | Media Coverage