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An Overview of Borosilicate Glass

16 February 2013 6:35 AM

Borosilicate is a type of glass that was at first developed in the late 19th century in Germany by Otto Schott. Borosilicate is a special type of glass that consists of silica and boron oxide. This is a glass that is commonly used for its very advantageous properties like low coefficient of thermal expansion, that is, it is more resistant to thermal shock when compared to common glass. This is the reason why this type of glass is most preferred for making laboratory glassware, as it does not react with the chemicals nor is it affected by thermal changes. This is an advantageous quality as this means that this glass, when subjected to extreme stress, will rather crack or break into large pieces instead of shattering into many small ones.

Also, this glass is less than dense than the usual soda-lime glass and with a relatively low refractive index. Due to these various properties, this glass is most preferred for many uses in the glass industry. Besides laboratory glassware, borosilicate glassware is also used to make microwave glass cookware, due to its resistance to heat. This is the reason it is also used to make high quality beverage glassware, as it increases the durability and also the dishwasher compatibility!

Borosilicate glass is also used in making aquarium heaters, flashlights, guitar slides, high intensity discharge lamps, etc. Even astronomical reflecting telescopes use borosilicate glass due to its low coefficient of expansion with heat. Besides these, borosilicate glass also has its use in the semiconductor industry and in the making of thermal insulation tiles of the famed Space Shuttle! Due to its high resistance and relatively inert nature, borosilicate glasses are also used for immobilisation and disposal of radioactive waste. Thus, this is a glass that can said to be the jack of all trades indeed!