solutions 1/2007 – Interview

Dr. Roland Langfeld, head of Research and Technology Development at SCHOTT AG
(Photo: A. Stephan)
”World’s first product development”

solutions: People often associate glass ceramic with SCHOTT Ceran® cooktop panels. What other areas can this material be used in?

Langfeld: The huge success of our Ceran® glass ceramic cooktop panels, Robax® fireplace viewing panels and ZERODUR® telescope mirror substrates is based on the so-called LAS (lithium-alumino-silicate) glass ceramics. Here, we optimized traits, such as zero thermal expansion, rigidity and appearance. However, a much broader spectrum of product characteristics can be achieved with glass ceramics. SCHOTT is in a position to manufacture glass and glass ceramics on an industrial scale. We are currently working very hard on glass ceramics with piezo-electric traits. The possibilities range from vehicles to sensors in diesel motors.

solutions: How well is SCHOTT positioned in this field with respect to research?

Langfeld: Our research teams in Mainz, Germany, and Duryea, U.S.A., have manufactured piezo-electric glass ceramics in their labs, applied for patents and created the foundation for the world’s first product developments. These glass ceramics represent lead-free alternatives to conventional piezo materials and offer other advantages for many different applications. We are, therefore, breaking new ground in this area and are able to rely on an excellent technological basis. Particularly when it comes to glass ceramics, our broad expertise enables us to play a leadership role.

solutions: What are your future research objectives in the glass ceramic field?

Langfeld: Together with a large customer in the lighting industry, we are currently developing glass ceramics that can be used to convert light in conjunction with LEDs. A glass ceramic system with extremely high rigidity that is now being tested for use in safety related applications is also in the pipeline. As this clearly indicates, this class of materials can be used in a much broader manner than we are currently aware of.