Glass – A Material for the Future

MSE undergraduate Amanda Chin pours a silicate glass melt in the new Corning Glass Laboratory as part of her studies into the transmission properties of glass.

Glass, one of the oldest known synthetic materials, is also one of the most promising materials for helping to solve major issues facing mankind. New glass compositions and manufacturing technologies enable glass to provide previously unavailable functionalities ranging from biocompatible in-vivo structures, to membranes for fuel cells, to encapsulation materials for spent nuclear fuel. 

Perhaps most familiar to the consumer is the recent development of high quality ultra-thin glass for use in displays, mobile phones, and computers. Our living environment is being transformed by the ability of glass to interface with humans via many of our senses and to communicate these inputs into vast arrays of intelligent systems that now occupy our surroundings.

In the new Corning Incorporated glass laboratory faculty, staff, and students conduct research on glass materials for many applications, often melting these substances above 1600 C to obtain the necessary reactions and molecular homogeneity that are required for such demanding applications. At the undergraduate level, Professor Lehman instructs the Glass Engineering course in which students use the laboratory to prepare new glasses of their own formulation followed by forming and characterization. Graduate students work on these subjects under the direct of Professor Goel and other faculty as part of their graduate studies in materials science and engineering and other engineering disciplines as well as in physics and chemistry.

This facility is essentially a one-of-a-kind capability in academia and differentiates Rutgers as one of a few leading schools with a broad-scoped capability to process and characterize glass.