It is the most transformative material in human historyApexglt
Glass, which can be seen everywhere in life, can be said to be one of the most important materials to promote the development of contemporary human civilization, and has a lasting and far-reaching impact on modern human society. It is not only widely used in construction, automobile, household goods and packaging, etc., but also a key material in cutting-edge fields such as energy, biomedicine, information and communication, electronics, aerospace, optoelectronics, etc.
For this reason, it has been suggested that we live in an age of glass. The United Nations has designated 2022 as the International Year of Glass to commemorate this most transformative material in human history. With the development of new glass technologies and the continuous emergence of new products, the positive impact of glass on the world continues to expand, and it will also help mankind cope with the challenges of global sustainable development.
The history of glass development is full of milestones that forever changed the human world. Archaeological finds and historical documents show that glass has long been a luxury, widely used, and has an important social role. Ancient Westerners even believed that the breath of a glassblower was comparable to the wisdom of a philosopher.
Over the past thousand years, the role of glass in human culture and material heritage has continued to expand. Glass has dominated our architectural skylines as far back as the last century, and solar panels play an important role in the energy market. At the same time, glass has also become the basis for the development of science and technology. From the birth of telescopes and microscopes, to the modern society, photoconductive glass revolutionized electrostatic printing, and post-glass controllable crystallization technology gave birth to glass ceramics, while glass optical fibers triggered the global communication revolution.
Health and Medicine
Melt into the body to release the drug
Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of every generation is critical to the sustainable development of human societies. Glass and glass-ceramic materials have been widely used in medicine, and their application scope will continue to expand in the future.
Biocompatible and bioactive glass medical devices are benefiting patients around the world. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of bioglass, the first material discovered to bind (and not be repelled) to bone. In 1994, the first batch of bioglass clinical products entered the market. To date, 1.5 million previously hopeless patients have benefited from these products.
More recently, bioactive glass has been shown to release biological factors better than other materials when degraded—they stimulate bone cells to create new bone. Bioglass can remineralize dentin and enamel. Through different processing techniques, glass ceramics have also become a basic material in the field of health (orthodontics).
Clinical studies have also found that bioactive glass has antibacterial effects in patients with deep bone infections (osteomyelitis). Using this glass treatment not only repairs bones but also kills bacteria, making up for the deficiencies of traditional antibiotics in this regard.
Now, the newly developed bioactive glass can also stimulate soft tissue repair. New borate glass fiber heals soft tissue wounds — insert glass fiber into a wound and it degrades within days, releasing chemicals the body needs to repair soft tissue as the glass breaks down, while the fibrous form of glass It provides a way for the tissue to grow back.
Porous or hollow glass microspheres offer the possibility to encapsulate fragile drugs while also protecting biological compounds that might interfere with drug availability, helping to control drug release. Theraspheres are glass microspheres containing radioactive yttrium-90 that are injected through the hepatic artery and retained in the liver to treat primary liver cancer. Such high-energy radiation doses could not have been targeted so efficiently without leaving the glass microspheres.
Glass is also critical for the safe storage of pharmaceuticals. The development of biopharmaceuticals over the past few years has placed higher demands on packaging components. In the fields of therapeutic proteins, vaccines, and monoclonal antibodies, biologic formulations are much more sensitive to foreign substances and environmental changes than chemical drugs, and all new drug delivery devices contain glass boxes or glass syringes. In addition, liquid formulations containing surfactants, salts, and chelating agents, coupled with lower drug content, have led to a global focus on the interaction between formulation and packaging materials, and thus the entire container closure system.
Сlean water and energy
Develop more efficient paths
Making clean water accessible to all is one of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The living conditions of billions of people have improved unprecedentedly over the past century, yet hundreds of millions of people still have little or no access to clean water. Porous filter material sterilizes water for safe drinking.
Typically, porous glass has a large network of interconnected pores, and the width of the pores can be controlled. This material can also be used for air purification. In recent decades, the photocatalytic degradation of various toxic organic compounds has been proposed as a viable solution for drinking water detoxification – sunlight shining on coated glass immersed in solutions containing organic pollutants creates a Fluorination reduction environment for pollutants. Most organic compounds, such as pesticides, herbicides, surfactants, and colorants, can be degraded into nontoxic products. The combination of porous glass filters and titanium difluoride, solar photocatalytic glass/glass ceramic coatings constitutes a cost-effective solution that can be implemented in developing countries.
Energy is at the heart of nearly every major challenge and opportunity facing the world today. Solar energy is the most abundant clean energy source at the global disposal and one of the most promising renewable energy sources at present. Solar energy can be harvested through technologies including photovoltaics, solar thermal power, and photobioreactors, in which glass materials play a key role.
Photovoltaic technology is based on the photoelectric effect, and glass design plays an important role in improving solar energy conversion efficiency. Glass increases the efficiency of transferring solar energy to semiconductors by adding transparency, light trapping or anti-reflection coatings. In addition, glass provides mechanical and chemical protection to ensure the longevity of photovoltaic cells.
Solar thermal installations offer another way to harvest energy from the sun. Solar energy is used to heat the liquid inside the glass tube, which then powers a generator to produce electricity. Glass used for solar thermal collectors must have high mechanical strength, chemical durability, and dimensional stability over large temperature changes.
Photobioreactors are another way to harvest solar energy. Photosynthetic microorganisms such as green algae are grown in glass tubes. Under solar radiation, these microorganisms convert solar energy into chemical energy through natural photosynthesis.
In addition to solar energy, glass also plays a key role in enabling the efficient conversion of wind energy into electricity. Windmill blades, for example, are made of fiberglass-reinforced composite materials. The increasing strength of this material could lead to larger, more efficient and more reliable windmills.
New glass materials, such as glass-based solid-state batteries, are being developed for energy storage to increase energy storage density, reduce charging time, increase the number of charging cycles, achieve higher long-term safety, and more. In addition, glass is indispensable in nuclear power generation. An effective technique for storing liquid nuclear waste is to fix the liquid nuclear waste in a glass matrix by vitrification. Nuclear waste glass is being developed that promises to store liquid nuclear waste safely for thousands of years.
Glass could even be used in the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles. One of the challenges of automotive hydrogen storage is how to achieve hydrogen storage in a small volume and light weight, and hollow glass microspheres (HGM, with a diameter of only 1 to 100 microns) provide a possible solution.
Industry and Innovation
Manufacturing is an important driver of economic development and employment, but carbon emissions from manufacturing must also be considered. In the future, more investment is needed to improve the efficiency of high-tech products that dominate the manufacturing industry, such as the vigorous development of information and communication services, and glass products play a key role in many aspects.
The invention of low-loss glass optical fiber was crucial to the development of the Internet, which triggered a global communications revolution, and thus became an indispensable element in the process of economic and industrial globalization.
As the need for bandwidth continues to grow, new fiber optic technologies are being developed to allow more data to be transmitted over greater distances while minimizing the need for signal amplification. Photonic crystal fiber enables lower-loss optical transmission, although it also needs to overcome significant process challenges to enable long-distance transmission. In addition, new glass fibers for quantum communication are being developed.
The latest progress in the field of wireless communication also requires the participation of glass. For example, 5G and WiFi can simultaneously use the same antenna for signal transmission, and glass lasers are required for the generation of milliwaves and higher frequencies required by photonic ROF systems. Fiber lasers also take advantage of the unique properties of glasses doped with rare earth ions. Because of their superior performance, compactness and versatility than other commercial lasers, glass lasers are widely used as the standard in many industries around the world.
Another emerging field is flexible and stretchable photonics: it is envisaged that the fabrication of integrated circuits in thin films deposited on ultrathin glass could lead to breakthroughs such as flexible electronics, wearables in the near future. Photon monitors and sensors will soon be available.
The research and development of display glass is making great strides. As the resolution of displays continues to increase, the requirements for high-tech glass substrates are becoming more and more stringent, and new glasses must be developed to improve dimensional stability during display manufacturing. Ultra-thin glass in development could make displays bendable or even foldable. Advanced AR/VR glasses represent the next revolution in information display technology. Glass has also revolutionized data storage and is expected to be the material for the next generation of holographic memory, enabling extremely high data storage densities.
Among the new glass processing technologies, sol-gel technology plays an important role. This low-temperature, energy-efficient, low-cost technology is particularly suitable for vitreous coatings and membranes. Such coatings and coatings can add mechanical and corrosion protection, anti-reflection, hydrophobicity, photocatalytic self-cleaning, and other properties to glass, as well as optical and optoelectronic functions in fuel cells, solar cells, solid-state lighting, and optical communications.