FAQ - Optical quartz glass

Frequently asked questions

View the data-sheet of our "Optical UV-grade quartz glass"

FOREWORD

Optical quartz glass (Fused Silica) vs. natural quartz glass (Fused Quartz)?

The significant differences between the two related materials

 

There is often confusion about the considerable differences between these two similar-sounding and yet so different materials. This confusion often results from the fact that many suppliers do not differentiate between the two materials and do not make the differences clear. For example, the much cheaper natural quartz glass is often offered and sold as "quartz glass". While this is not wrong, it is usually not pointed out that no optical quartz glass was offered and that the natural quartz glass is not comparable to optical quartz glass in terms of properties or cost.

For example, natural quartz glass in the UVC range has a much lower light transmission than optical quartz glass (fused silica). If, for example, high transmission of more than 80 % at 185 nanometers is required (see curve), this cannot be achieved with fused quartz (see curve). Besides, the optical homogeneity of natural fused quartz is generally much worse than that of optical grade fused silica. It also has much more impurities, inclusions, and bubbles and is therefore unsuitable for demanding optical applications.

Although there are numerous applications for which natural quartz glass is an excellent choice, these are usually limited to simple sight glass applications. These can be UV lamp covers or separating discs in disinfection devices, for example. Since the significant differences are often unknown, a customer may request a quotation for optical quartz glass, even if natural quartz would be sufficient for his application. He will wonder about the dramatic price difference when he compares the offer with the competitor's quote, who offered the same part based on the significantly less sophisticated natural fused quartz, also named „quartz glass“. He compares apples to oranges without realizing it.

Therefore it is essential to check in advance which material is the right choice for the application. Of course, it would be just as unfavorable to use the much more expensive optical quartz glass for simple sight glass applications. So it depends precisely on the requirements of the individual application, which material will be the appropriate choice.

To help you choose the right material for your application, we have created this FAQ page. You will find information about optical quartz glass and the technical differences between the two very similar sounding materials.

 

Frequently asked questions:

In which cases should I use optical quartz glass, and in which cases, natural quartz glass?

What are the main differences between optical quartz glass (fused silica) and natural quartz glass (fused quartz)?

Can I use optical quartz glass with UV quality for sight glass applications?

Up to what temperature can I use optical quartz glass?

How far into the UV range does optical quartz glass transmit?

 

All given details and specifications are mean reference values and are not guaranteed.
Also, please consider our "Notes on technical specifications".


Q: In which cases should I use optical quartz glass, and in which cases, natural quartz glass?

A: You should always choose optical quartz glass when high image quality is required. It should also be your choice when flatness, surface quality, and index homogeneity are essential, only a small number of defects are allowed in the glass, or when an optical coating is to be applied. If you require UV-light transmission from about 180 nm, this glass is the correct and usually the only possible choice (see curve). This glass is also the right material for optical applications with very high operating temperatures, provided that one of the properties mentioned above is also necessary.

Natural quartz glass (Fused Quartz), on the other hand, is the better and, above all, a much cheaper option in all cases where the optical properties and the imaging quality are not relevant. If only a clear view is required, which applies to parts such as UV-permeable sight glasses or cover glasses of high-performance headlights and LED light sources in the UV range down to about 220 nm (see curve), it is the best choice. Natural quartz glass is also ideal for furnace sight glass applications in the temperature range up to approx. 1000°C.


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Q: What are the main differences between optical quartz glass (fused silica) and natural quartz glass (fused quartz)?

A: Optical quartz glass, i.e. fused silica, is produced from synthetically manufactured quartz material using the flame hydrolysis process, which gives it its exceptionally high purity and optical material quality. The glass is made in blocks (boules), and it can be selected according to index homogeneity and minimal inclusions. The production process is complicated and very cost-intensive, but it ensures outstanding optical quality. Due to the small number of impurities, an excellent transmission in the ultraviolet wavelength range down to 180 nm is achieved (see curve). Due to its high purity, this material is suitable for producing high-quality optics. The glass can withstand temperatures up to approx. 1000°C.

Unlike optical quartz glass, natural quartz glass (fused quartz) is made by melting natural quartz crystals. Generally, natural quartz crystals contain far more impurities than synthetically produced ones. As a result, the material also has a much lower optical quality and considerably more bubbles and inclusions. Although this is usually not visible to the naked eye, the glass is generally unsuitable for imaging applications or applications with high optical requirements. The UV transmittance of natural fused quartz is still higher than most other glasses. Still, it achieves, for example, only a little more than 50% transmission at 190 nm at 3 mm thickness (see transmission curve), whereas optical fused quartz still offers about 90% light transmission (see curve).


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Q: Can I use optical quartz glass with UV quality for sight glass applications?

A: Yes, you can, of course. However, this is hugely unfavorable due to the drastically higher price, especially for large parts. As long as you do not need transmission far down into the deep UV range up to 180 nm and do not have any optical requirements beyond a sight glass or protective pane, we recommend using natural quartz glass because of the much lower cost.


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Q: Up to what temperature can I use optical quartz glass?

A: You can use our optical quartz glass up to a temperature of about 1000°C. It also offers high thermal shock resistance.


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Q: How far into the UV range does optical quartz glass transmit?

A: We specify optical quartz glass to meet a transmission of T > 80% at 185 nm. However, typically the transmission in practice is higher and already at 190 nm, a transmission of approx. 90 % is available.


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