NASA research propels development of new glass

inesses grow into commercial manufacturers of innovative products," said Dr. Winslow Sargeant, who directs the National Science Foundation SBIR Commercialization Program for devices. "We are working with Containerless Research Inc. by supporting product research and development that can help them grow the business and continue to create new products and new jobs," Sargeant explained.

REAl Glass has qualities useful for creating materials for demanding optical applications. "We've taken many of the best qualities of the current materials and created a new glass that can be produced inexpensively," Weber said.

One of the most promising uses of the glass is for lasers. Whether it is a power laser for cutting metal for car bodies or a medical laser used for surgery, the "heart" of lasers is the gain medium, which is where REAl GlassTM can be used. This critical component increases or amplifies light, resulting in an intense, highly concentrated beam capable of precisely cutting metal parts or surgically removing or repairing human tissue.

"Most surgical lasers now use expensive single crystals, which limit the range of operating wavelength to very narrow bands," explained Weber. "REAl GlassTM would provide tunability, which can give more control over surgical procedures, an important factor in different types of surgery and for different skin types. Our glass can provide efficient power lasers and expand coverage to new wavelengths," he said.

REAl GlassTM also provides a medium for next-generation optical communications devices that need to be small, low-cost and powerful to provide fiber for home connections for broadband Internet. The company can customize the glass composition for these uses. The family of REAl GlassTM materials is patented under U.S. Patent No. 6,482,758 issued Nov. 19, 2002, and is only available from Containerless Research Inc., or under license.


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

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