Navy Ditches Crucible in Bulletproof ‘Glass’ Production

The press used in place of a crucible to produce Spinel.US Navy researchers have developed a bulletproof glass – or, more accurately, a ‘transparent material’ – called Spinel. It is actually a synthetic powdered mineral: magnesium aluminate.

Spinel can be moulded into ‘virtually any’ shape and does not block unfrared light, unlike traditional bulletproof glass. This makes the material suitable for use on camera lenses, for example, as well as display screens.

Navy Research created Spinel using sintering, which is effectively pressing together a layer of crystal particles. This means that Spinel will only chip when damaged, as the crack is deflected by the crystal particles.

A press was found to be more effective than using a crucible to melt materials and create the crystals. When doing so, the molten material reacted with the crucible and was produced with defects.

Technology to produce Spinel in large quantities has now been licensed to a company. Initially it will only be used by the US Navy, but could spread to consumer electronics in the future.