Dichroic Glass

dichro

Dichroic [dahy-kroh-ikglass is glass containing multiple micro-layers of metal oxides which alter its optical properties. The invention of dichroic glass is often erroneously attributed to NASA and its contractors, who developed it for use in dichroic filters.

Dichroic glass dates back to at least the 4th century CE as seen in the Lycurgus cup, a Roman relic.

Multiple ultra-thin layers of different metals (gold, silver), metal oxides (titanium, chromium, aluminium, zirconium, magnesium) and silica are vaporized by an electron beam in a vacuum chamber. The vapor then condenses on the surface of the glass in the form of a crystal structure. This is sometimes followed by a protective layer of quartz crystal. The finished glass can have as many as 30 to 50 layers of these materials yet the thickness of the total coating is approximately 890 nm. The coating that is created is very similar to a gemstone and, by careful control of thickness, different colors are obtained.

Dichroic glass is now available to artists through dichroic coating manufacturers. Glass artists often refer to dichroic glass as ‘dichro.’ The main characteristic of dichroic glass is that it has a transmitted color and a completely different reflected color, as certain wavelengths of light either pass through or are reflected. This causes an array of colors to be displayed, depending on the angle of view.

A plate of dichroic glass can be fused with other glass in multiple firings in a kiln. Due to variations in the firing process, individual results can never be exactly predicted, so each piece of fused dichroic glass is unique. Over 45 colors of dichroic coatings are available to be placed on any glass substrate.

2 Responses to “Dichroic Glass”

  1. Looks attractive. Apart form arts and jewelry, if these will be used other fields with unique ideas, there will be some great results.

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