Our understanding of construction materials and their environmental impact has never been greater than the day we live today. Construction materials are getting more complex, innovative, and futuristic. Some draw inspiration from nature, while some are wholly novel and constructed with alien components. There are so many cutting-edge materials emerging right now that it’s impossible to keep up, but do have the potential to revolutionize architecture and development today, tomorrow, and in the future. Also known as Aluminium Oxynitride (ALON), transparent aluminium compound is a clear aluminium compound composed of aluminate powder alloys.

Alternative materials: Transparent aluminium - Sheet1
Transparent aluminium_©Surmet

Building materials such as aluminium become even more beautiful when they are combined with a translucent element. ALON, also known as transparent aluminium, is utilized in a wide range of applications such as infrared optical screens, sensor systems, and the military defense industry. 

Manufacturing | Transparent aluminium

ALON is created by mixing aluminium, oxygen, and nitrogen. aluminium oxynitride powder was compressed under the pressure of 15,000 pounds per inch in latex molds immersed in hydraulic fluid throughout the production process. The formed and opaque sample is heated to 2000 degree Celsius and held there for two days. After cooling, ALON becomes translucent, followed by polishing for further clarity and strength. In the near-ultraviolet, visible, and infrared ranges, it is transparent. It is four times stronger than fused silica glass, eighty-five percent stronger than sapphire, and fifteen percent stronger than magnesium aluminate spinel. Up to 1200°C (2190°F), the material remains solid. It possesses strong corrosion resistance and resistance to radiation and oxidation damage. It is almost three times as hard as steel of the same thickness. When using traditional ceramic powder processing techniques, the material can be processed to make domes, tubes, clear windows, rods, and plates.

Alternative materials: Transparent aluminium - Sheet2
Spinel structure of ALON_©chemical lab

Ceramic material is treated with high-temperature heat treatment before being ground. After that, the material is polished to achieve transparency. At temperatures above 2100°C (3812°F), it loses transparency. Grinding and polishing improve impact resistance, and the resultant material is 85 percent tougher than sapphire and 15 percent sturdier than magnesium aluminate spinel. The traditional process for producing transparent aluminium results in aluminium with large porosity and poor transparency. In 2010, Lee et al. from Yeungnam University presented a manufacturing process that addresses this issue.

Al3No3 is the chemical formula for translucent aluminium. aluminium, Nitrogen, and Oxygen are the major constituents. ALON (Al23O27N5) is another name for them. aluminium nitride has a mole percentage of 27-40. Alon is more stable due to its optical and mechanical qualities.

The breakthrough was made possible by the creation of a new radiation source ten billion times greater than that of any other synchrotron in the world (including the Diamond Light Source in the United Kingdom). The FLASH laser, situated in Hamburg, Germany, generates short pulses of soft X-ray light, each being more powerful than a power plant capable of supplying electricity to an entire city. Researchers in Oxford and elsewhere focused their efforts on a small area, less than a hundredth of a hair’s width. aluminium becomes translucent at such high intensities. Transparent aluminium, unlike glass, is transparent to infrared radiation, making it ideal for heat-seeking missiles and other infrared technology.

Alternative materials: Transparent aluminium - Sheet3
Spinel that’s been formed into a dome shape_©Naval Laboratory

Although transparent aluminium has progressed a long way over the years, it is still a very costly material to manufacture. The technology can be applied to a range of common items, such as electrical gadgets and packaging, however, the cost prevents many manufacturers from taking advantage of them.

Transparent aluminium is now employed in a variety of defense applications. Materials such as this can be used in a variety of applications, including clear armor, impregnable glass alternatives, and sensor windows, aluminium offers a range of advantages in this area. A 50-caliber rifle bullet can be stopped by an aluminium oxynitride laminate 1.6 inches thick. This is a promise that ordinary bulletproof glass with a thickness of 3.7 inches cannot make.

Transparent aluminium_©vincivilworld.in/transparent-aluminum-manufacturing-properties/?v=98f877c23e25, Transparent aluminium

With society becoming more conscious, a rising number of project owners are seeking sustainable building materials to incorporate into their structures. Structures not only boost the resale value of a house in a forward-thinking market, but they may also cut costs on utilities and maintenance expenses. As architects, it becomes a necessity for us to look towards sustainable means to create a healthy environment for us humans and our surroundings. In the majority of cases, individuals envision sustainable materials as ones that generate energy or reduce the need for it. The use of large windows to enable more natural light to flow and decrease the demand for electric lighting has been a key trend in sustainability in recent years. The trend for sustainability and housing is only going to grow in the coming years.


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