Transparent Ceramics

Transparent Ceramics

Many ceramic materials, both glassy and crystalline, have found use as optically transparent materials in various forms from bulk solid-state components to high surface area forms such as thin films, coatings and fibers. Such devices have found widespread use for various applications in the electro-optical field including: optical fibers for guided lightwave transmission, optical switches, laser amplifiers and lenses, hosts for solid-state lasers and optical window materials for gas lasers, and infrared (IR) heat seeking devices for missile guidance systems and IR night vision.

While single-crystalline ceramics may be largely defect-free (particularly within the spatial scale of the incident light wave), optical transparency in polycrystalline materials is limited by the amount of light which is scattered by their microstructural features. The amount of light scattering therefore depends on the wavelength of the incident radiation, or light.

For example, since visible light has a wavelength scale on the order of hundreds of nanometers, scattering centers will have dimensions on a similar spatial scale. Most ceramic materials, such as alumina and its compounds, are formed from fine powders, yielding a fine grained polycrystalline microstructure which is filled with scattering centers comparable to the wavelength of visible light. Thus, they are generally opaque as opposed to transparent materials. Recent nanoscale technology has, however, made possible the production of (poly)crystalline transparent ceramics such as alumina Al2O3, yttria alumina garnet (YAG), and neodymium-doped Nd:YAG.

Read more about Transparent Ceramics:  Introduction, Night Vision, Missiles, Armor

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