by Mary Ann Giorgio
If you’ve never heard the term sol-gel, you’re not alone, but in the world of materials science, sol-gel is a rock star. An abbreviation for Solution Gel, sol-gel is a well-documented method for creating solid materials from small molecules. By following the sol-gel processing method, scientists can add micro particles or molecules to a solution (sol), and those tiny particles eventually bond to form a gel.
Sol-gel is instrumental here at Luminit because it allows us to create specialized optics, such as our Glass-on-Glass Light Shaping Diffusers® and Hybrid Glass Diffusers, that combine the latest advancements in sol-gel processing with our advanced capabilities in replicating micro- and nano-structures onto various substrates.
What Are Glass-on-Glass Diffusers?
Similar to Luminit’s standard Light Shaping Diffusers, Glass-on-Glass diffusers include a holographically recorded, randomized surface relief structure that manipulates light. Instead of being replicated on polycarbonate or polyester sheets, however, the structures are replicated in sol-gel directly on a float glass or UV silica substrate. The result is a more robust diffuser well suited for customers involved in laser applications where high temperatures, laser power and UV transmissions can have a negative impact on other surfaces. Our Glass-on-Glass diffusers have a high temperature threshold, high laser damage threshold and excellent UV transmission (240nm and higher).
Luminit Glass-on-Glass Diffusers can withstand temperatures of 500°C stable and have a high laser damage threshold.
What Are Hybrid Glass Diffusers?
Complementing the Glass-on-Glass Light Shaping Diffusers, Luminit Hybrid Glass Diffusers can be used in laser applications that require a higher temperature tolerance. These diffusers also have higher scratch resistance than polymer-based diffusers and can be made with a wide range of circular and elliptical FWHM angles, giving customers more flexibility. Our Hybrid Glass Diffusers offer up to 92% transmission and can be used with a wide range of optical glass substrates.
Luminit Hybrid Glass Diffusers can withstand temperatures of 150°C, have high temperature tolerance, and are available in various angles and sizes.
Future Possibilities with Sol-gel
Luminit engineers and scientists are experimenting with the sol-gel process to create diffusers with moth-eye (antireflective) and Lotus leaf (superhydrophobic) properties. Because the sol-gel process takes place at or near room temperature, we can introduce organic molecules inside the inorganic network. Inorganic and organic components can then be mixed at nanoscale in virtually any ratio, forming a hybrid material with very practical field applications. Imagine condensation-resistant or glare-resistant windshields or reduced reflected light on LCD displays. The possibilities are endless so stay tuned for what lies ahead for Luminit sol-gel technology.