Radiation-Blocking Glass Tech Could Shield Astronauts

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People who live in glass houses probably shouldn’t throw stones, but they could travel in space, thanks to a new manufacturing technique that allows transparent glass to absorb ultraviolet radiation.

“Our glass shows excellent optical quality,” researcher Shifeng Zhou, with the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, China, said in a press release.

“It effectively protects organic dye and living cells from UV radiation damage.”

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The glass, which can be manufactured in bulk form or as a film, has a wide range of applications, including protecting electronic devices from radiation, serving as a biological shield and preserving cultural artifacts.

The researchers figured out a way to lace glass with a metal oxide known as cerium oxide, which can absorb ultraviolet light, and create a composite that is transparent and long-lasting.

“In space, the high-energy radiation environment … can be quite damaging,” Zhou said. “If you add a radiation-blocking coating … a device would be well protected and its service lifetime may be prolonged.”

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The glass also can shield biological cells from exposure to ultraviolet radiation, he added.

The microstructure engineering technique used to create the glass can produce other novel glass materials with different properties, the researchers wrote in a paper published in Optical Materials Express, a journal of The Optical Society.

“We believe this fundamental research may have great significance for the glass industry,” Zhou said.

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