Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

ZBLAN Research Takes Step Forward

June 4, 1997
Space Sciences Laboratory -- NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center
Research into ZBLAN, a material with the potential to become the optical fiber cable of the 21st century, has taken a step forward with the acceptance of space-based research for publication in the Journal of Materials Research.

Discovered by a team of French researchers in 1974, ZBLAN is named after the heavy metals found in
the chemical composition of the material: zirconium, barium, lanthanum, aluminum, and sodium (chemical
symbol "Na"). ZBLAN is a member of the heavy metal fluoride family of glasses, and has promising
applications in fiber optics. It is highly transparent in the infrared region of the electromagnetic
spectrum, thus opening an entirely new energy range for optical fiber communications, sensing, and
technology development. But to develop this new material fully will require some more hard science be

In theory, one should be able to make a ZBLAN optical fiber cable that has the capability to carry more
than 100 times the amount of data carried by today's traditional silica-based optical fiber cables. In
practice, however, the best that has been achieved has only been about 1/5 of current cables. "This is
primarily because of the fact that when you make ZBLAN on the ground, it has this nasty tendency to
crystallize - to come out of its glass-like state - which severely degrades its optical properties,"
commented Tucker.

The two pictures accompanying this release demonstrate this. ZBLAN on the left, made on Earth in a one-gravity environment, shows a great deal of non-uniformity and inhomogeneities due to its crystalline state. By contrast, the ZBLAN on the right was made aboard a Conquest-1 suborbital rocket flight. Its glassy nature is readily visible, as are some bubbles that formed when the sample inadvertently came in contact
with the container.

"It's really fascinating stuff," remarked Tucker. "Most of my colleagues perform experiments in space in
order to make very high-quality crystals, but ZBLAN doesn't crystallize."

Potential areas of application for this material include medical surgery and cauterization, temperature
monitoring, infrared imaging, fiber-optic lasers, optical power transmission, and a host of other areas. A
recent marketing survey indicated that the annual impact of ZBLAN on the economy might total as much
as nearly $8 billion.

"But before we get there, we've got a lot of hard science to do first," said Tucker. "We really have to get
to the physical understanding of why ZBLAN behaves the way it does, and what makes it stay in the
glass state in microgravity, as opposed to crystallize like it does on the ground."

(The images referred to in this text may be found at http://www.ssl.msfc.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/msad03jun97_1.htm)

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Space Sciences Laboratory -- NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

Space Sciences Laboratory -- NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "ZBLAN Research Takes Step Forward." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 June 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/06/970604072441.htm>.
Space Sciences Laboratory -- NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. (1997, June 4). ZBLAN Research Takes Step Forward. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/06/970604072441.htm
Space Sciences Laboratory -- NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "ZBLAN Research Takes Step Forward." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/06/970604072441.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This

More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins