Techniques of Transparency
The basic raw material of glass is sand. Iron oxide, present as a trace impurity in the sand, gives glass its greenish tint. It also effectively reduces the transmittance of the glass. Manufacturing processes have been developed to reduce these trace impurities, resulting in a “low-iron”glass product, also referred to variously as super-clear or clear-white glass. The reduction of the iron oxide in the raw material effectively removes the greenish tint and increases the transmittance properties of the glass. The increased transparency of low-iron glass is readily apparent.
Another significant attribute of glass is its property of reflectance. Glass reflects light as a function of the material makeup, surface coating, and the angle of incidence of the light (the greater the angle, the higher the reflection). Surface coatings such as the so called mirror coatings dramatically increase reflection properties. However, even normal glass reflects light. In fact, it is primarily through reflection, the reflected images on a glass surface, that we see glass. Take away the reflections, the glass “disappears”and transparency is enhanced. One of the many types of interference coating available for glass addresses just this, the reduction of reflected light. Anti-reflective coatings significantly reduce reflected light from the glass surface, particularly at angles of incidence near normal to the glass plane. The effect is to dramatically increase the perception of transparency of the glass, especially when viewed straight on.
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