What is Fused Silica?
Fused silica is a processed form of silica with an amorphous structure. Also known as synthetic fused silica, this material can be made by:
Melting silica particles into a single form using gas or electric heat, or synthesizing glass using chemicals, both processes create sticky, cross-linked 3D structures with excellent optical properties, thermal shock resistance and low Coefficient of thermal expansion, which means it does not expand significantly with increasing temperature.
Fused Silica Properties
Fused silica has several beneficial properties that make it an ideal material for the manufacture of glass for optical products, high-tech products, and a variety of other applications, including:
Fused silica produces a chemically inert glass that is believed to have a high level of chemical purity. This means it can be exposed to several different types of chemicals used in commercial, industrial and laboratory settings without degrading or suffering damage. It is compatible with most other chemicals, although both potassium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid can damage it.
Fused silica glass is electrically insulating. Its resistance varies with temperature, ranging from 1018 Ω*cm (20 °C) to 1010 Ω*cm (400 °C). It also has good dielectric properties and high frequency performance with low dielectric constant and low dielectric loss. Due to the large silicon-oxygen bond gap in the material structure, only the ionic impurities in the material can be charged and conductive, making it extremely resistant.
One of the most unique and advantageous properties of fused silica is its elasticity. Manufacturers can create flexible micromechanical components that would otherwise face breakage or wear during motion. While standard glass cannot be used to produce flexible microdevices because of the risk of cracking during the finishing stage, fused silica is more elastic and resistant to microcracking. Fused silica is also incredibly strong and resistant to compression. Tension is more prone to damage than compression.
Fused silica is a highly transparent material that can be used in applications ranging from ultraviolet to infrared, covering the entire visible light spectrum and extending well beyond it. Manufacturers can also customize the delivery of parts by modifying the technology and purity levels used in the production process. Contaminants such as aluminum, iron, and sodium can alter light absorption.
Fused silica has a low and very consistent coefficient of thermal expansion, making it an excellent material choice for components that need to be stable over a wide temperature range. This feature and its excellent dimensional stability allow it to withstand thermal shock and any associated damage.
Applications of Fused Silica
Due to its very superior properties, fused silica can be used in a variety of precision manufacturing for commercial, industrial and laboratory applications, some of the most common applications include:
Chemical and Medical Precision Glass
Fused silica parts can withstand exposure to chemicals and pharmaceutical formulations because they are chemically pure and resistant to chemical and thermal damage.
Fused silica can be used to make insulating parts because they are non-conductive, provide high penetrating field strength, and ensure low electrical losses.
high temperature operation
Due to its low coefficient of thermal expansion, fused silica can be used to manufacture parts for high temperature applications.
Light and Laser Technology
Fused silica parts can be used for laser separation of light.
Optical System Components
Manufacturers can produce transmissive optics, mirrors, metrology components and lenses for optical systems.
Due to its purity, fused silica is often used in semiconductor components.
Fused silica is resistant to high temperature and radiation, and UV quartz glass can be used to manufacture UV sanitary equipment. It also allows UVC light to pass through and therefore aids in disinfection.