NASA research propels development of new glass

There's a new glass in town. The glass, developed with the help of a unique NASA levitator facility, is available for numerous commercial applications including lasers and optical communications.

"We have patented a family of new glasses and have established processes for making and using them in practical applications," said Dr. Richard (Rick) Weber, director of the Glass Products Division of Containerless Research Inc., the small company that invented and produces the glass in Evanston, Ill. "We're already making commercial quantities of glass rods and plates for use in lasers," he said.

REAl Glass -- made from Rare Earth oxides, Aluminum oxide and small amounts of silicon dioxide -- has unique properties that were identified using
both the company's containerless processing techniques and a NASA
ground-based research facility.

As part of a NASA research grant for a proposed International Space Station flight experiment, Weber conducted research in the Electrostatic Levitator at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The levitator, where molten spheres of glowing material float with no visible means of support or containment, is one of the nation's few facilities where scientists can process materials without using contaminating containers.

"This shows how basic NASA research can lead to innovative materials and new products that can benefit everybody," said Dr. Michael Wargo, Enterprise Scientist for materials science in NASA's Office of Biological and Physical Research in Washington.

Containerless Research's development of applications and new products for lasers, optical communications, and surgical lasers is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

"The development of REAl Glass shows how the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program works by building on good ideas that come from basic research and helping small bus

Contact: Steve Roy
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center News Center

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