A number of compositions of ceramic oxide high T(sub c) superconductors were elevated for their glass formation ability by means of rapid thermal analysis during quenching, optical, and electron microscopy of the quenched samples, and with subsequent DSC measurements. Correlations between experimental measurements and the methodical composition changes identified the formulations of superconductors that can easily form glass. The superconducting material was first formed as a glass; then, with subsequent devitrification, it was formed into a bulk crystalline superconductor by a series of processing methods.
A number of research teams have observed that glass forming melts that are solidified in low-g exhibit enhanced glass formation. This project will examine one of these glasses, the heavy metal fluoride glass ZBLAN. A four year ground based research program has been approved to examine the crystallization of ZBLAN glasses with the purpose of testing a theory for the crystallization of ZBLAN glass. The theory could explain the general observations of enhanced glass formation of other glasses melted and solidified in low-g. Fluid flow in 1-g results from buoyancy forces and surface tension driven convection. This fluid flow can introduce shear in undercooled liquids in 1-g. In low-g it is known that fluid flows are greatly reduced so that the shear rate in fluids in low-g are extremely low. It is believed that fluids may have some weak structure in the absence of flow. Even very small shear rates could cause this structure to collapse in response to the shear. A general result would be shear thinning of the fluid. The hypothesis of this research is that: Shear thinning in undercooled liquids increases the rate of nucleation and crystallization of glass forming melts. Shear of the melt can be reduced in low-g enhancing undercooling and glass formation. Samples will be melted and quenched in 1-g under quiescent conditions at a number of controlled cooling rates to determine times and temperatures of crystallization and heated at controlled heating rates to determine kinetic crystallization parameters. Experiments will also be performed on the materials while under controlled vibration conditions and compared with the quiescent experiments in order to evaluate the effect of shear in the liquid on crystallization kinetics. After the experimental parameters are well known, experiments will be repeated under low-g (and 2-g) conditions on the KC-135 aircraft during low-g parabolic maneuvers. The results will determine the effects of shear on crystallization. Our experimental setups will be designed with low-g experiments in mind and will be tested as breadboard low-g experiments. It is very likely that the thermal analysis instrumentation can be adapted to be run in the microgravity glovebox facilities. Critical space experiments may result to test the theory at longer low-g time experiments in space.
The heavy metal fluoride glasses represent a class of reasonably good glass forming compositions with very unique infrared optical properties that have been of interest to researchers for 20 years. The most extensively studied glass with the most potential for practical applications is ZBLAN which contains the fluorides of zirconium, barium, lanthanum, aluminum, and sodium. It has a broad transmission range (0.3-6 um), low index of refraction (about 1.43), low dispersion, low Raleigh scattering, ultra-low thermal 2 dispersion, and potential ultra-low signal attenuation. Potential applications include fiber amplifiers, fiber optic gyroscopes, delivery systems for laser cutting, drilling and surgery, radiation resistant data links, nonlinear optical systems, and ultra-low-loss repeater-less transcontinental and transoceanic optical fiber. Potential markets for these materials are in the tens of billions of dollars per year. Optical fiber from this system possess excellent transmission characteristics in the IR, but the glass is somewhat susceptible to nucleation and crystallization. The theoretical intrinsic loss coefficient for ZBLAN at 2 microns is 0.00 1 dB/Km. Extrinsic losses, however, cause significant attenuation. The lowest loss coefficient measured is 0.7 dB/Km. This compares with the loss coefficient for fiber optic grade fused silica glass of 0.2 dB/Km. The extrinsic losses in ZBLAN have been attributed to 1) impurities which might be lowered by containerless processing and 2) to scattering from micro-crystallites that form during glass preform production or during fiber drawing.
The effects of gravity on the crystallization of ZrF4-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3- NaF glasses have been studied utilizing NASA’s KC135 and a sounding rocket, Fibers and cylinders of ZBLAN glass were heated to the crystallization temperature in unit and reduced gravity. When processed in unit gravity the glass crystallized, but when processed in reduced gravity, crystallization was suppressed. A possible explanation involving shear thinning is presented to explain these results.
It has been observed by two research groups that ZrF4-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3-NaF (ZBLAN) glass crystallization is suppressed in microgravity. The mechanism for this phenomenon is unknown at the present time. In order to better understand the mechanism, an experiment was performed on NASA’s KC135 reduced gravity aircraft to obtain quantitative crystallization data. An apparatus was designed and constructed for performing rapid thermal analysis of milligram quantities of ZBLAN glass. The apparatus employs an ellipsoidal furnace allowing for rapid heating and cooling. Using this apparatus nucleation and crystallization kinetic data was obtained leading to the construction of time-temperature-transformation curves for ZBLAN in microgravity and unit gravity.
The effects of gravity on the crystallization of ZrF(4)-BaF(2)-LaF(3)-AlF(3)-NaF glasses have been studied using the NASA KC-135 and a sounding rocket. Fibers and cylinders of ZBLAN glass were heated to the crystallization temperature in unit and reduced gravity. When processed in unit gravity the glass crystallized, but when processed in reduced gravity, crystallization was suppressed. A possible explanation involving shear thinning is presented to explain these results.
The purpose of FMVM is to measure the rate of coalescence of two highly viscous liquid drops and correlate the results with the liquid viscosity and surface tension. The experiment takes advantage of the low gravitational free floating conditions in space to permit the unconstrained coalescence of two nearly spherical drops. The merging of the drops is accomplished by deploying them from a syringe and suspending them on Nomex threads followed by the astronaut s manipulation of one of the drops toward a stationary droplet till contact is achieved. Coalescence and merging occurs due to shape relaxation and reduction of surface energy, being resisted by the viscous drag within the liquid. Experiments were conducted onboard the International Space Station in July of 2004 and subsequently in May of 2005. The coalescence was recorded on video and down-linked near real-time. When the coefficient of surface tension for the liquid is known, the increase in contact radius can be used to determine the coefficient of viscosity for that liquid. The viscosity is determined by fitting the experimental speed to theoretically calculated contact radius speed for the same experimental parameters. Recent fluid dynamical numerical simulations of the coalescence process will be presented. The results are important for a better understanding of the coalescence process. The experiment is also relevant to liquid phase sintering, free form in-situ fabrication, and as a potential new method for measuring the viscosity of viscous glass formers at low shear rates.
The objective of this ground based study is to test the hypothesis that shear thinning (the non-Newtonian response of viscosity to shear rate) is a viable mechanism to explain the observation of enhanced glass formation in numerous low-g experiments. In 1-g, fluid motion results from buoyancy forces and surface tension driven convection. This fluid flow will introduce shear in undercooled liquids in 1-g. In low-g it is known that fluid flows are greatly reduced so that the shear rate in fluids can be extremely low. It is believed that some fluids may have weak structure in the absence of flow. Very small shear rates could cause this structure to collapse in response to shear resulting in a lowering of the viscosity of the fluid. The hypothesis of this research is that: Shear thinning in undercooled liquids decreases the viscosity, increasing the rate of nucleation and crystallization of glass forming melts. Shear in the melt can be reduced in low-g, thus enhancing undercooling and glass formation. The viscosity of a model glass (lithium di-silicate, L2S) often used for crystallization studies has been measured at very low shear rates using a dynamic mechanical thermal analyzer. Our results are consistent with increasing viscosity with a lowering of shear rates. The viscosity of L2S may vary as much as an order of magnitude depending on the shear rate in the temperature region of maximum nucleation and crystal growth. Classical equations for nucleation and crystal growth rates, are inversely related to the viscosity and viscosity to the third power respectively. An order of magnitude variation in viscosity (with shear) at a given temperature would have dramatic effects on glass crystallization Crystallization studies with the heavy metal fluoride glass ZBLAN (ZrF2-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3-NaF) to examine the effect of shear on crystallization are being initiated. Samples are to be melted and quenched under quiescent conditions at different shear rates to determine the effect on crystallization. The results from this study are expected to advance the current scientific understanding of glass formation in low-g and glass crystallization under glass molding conditions and will improve the scientific understanding of technological processes such as fiber pulling, bulk amorphous alloys, and glass fabrication processes.