La Rivista del Nuovo Cimento

Year 2015 - Issue 7-8 - July-August

Glass-ceramics: A class of nanostructured materials for photonics

Authors: A. de Pablos-Martin, M. Ferrari, M. J. Pascual, G. C. Righini
DOI: 10.1393/ncr/i2015-10114-0
pp. 311-369
Published online 26 August 2015
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Abstract: Glass-ceramics (GCs) are constituted by nanometer-to-micron-sized crystals embedded in a glass matrix; usually, their structural or functional elements (clusters, crystallites or molecules) have dimensions in the 1 to 100nm range. As the name says, GCs must be considered an intermediate material between inorganic glasses and ceramics; in most cases the crystallinity is between 30 and 50%. GCs share many properties with both glasses and ceramics, offering low defects, extra hardness, high thermal shock resistance (typical of ceramics) together with the ease of fabrication and moulding (typical of glasses). The embedded crystalline phase, however, can enhance the existing properties of the matrix glass or lead to entirely new properties. GCs are produced by controlled crystallization of certain glasses, generally induced by nucleating additives; they may result opaque or transparent. Transparent GCs are now gaining a competitive advantage with respect to amorphous glasses and, sometimes, to crystals too. The aim of the present paper is to introduce the basic characteristics of transparent glass-ceramics, with particular attention to the relationship between structure and transparency and to the mechanism of crystallization, which may also be induced by selective laser treatments. Their applications to the development of guided-wave structures are also briefly described