Sapphire Industry Watch – February 13

  • Rubicon Technology produces large-area sapphire windows – Aerospace Manufacturing and Design: Rubicon Technology has successfully produced the first synthetic sapphire crystal of its size and thickness, meeting a key milestone in its Large-Area Net-Shape Crystal Extraction (LANCE) project. At 36″ x 18″ x 2″, this piece of sapphire will serve the demanding needs of defense applications, along with future commercial and industrial applications.
  • Madrid’s LED bulbs are street lights ahead of the world (VIDEO) – Malay Mail Online: In an effort to reduce energy consumption, Madrid plans to replace 225,000 traditional street light bulbs with LEDs. The switch is expected to save the city 36 percent of annual energy consumption and reduce CO2 emissions by the equivalent of that generated by 100,000 vehicles in one year.
  • Jefferson scientist’s study of SAD took him to space and back – philly.com: Lack of light is scientifically proven to be one of the most depressing things about winter. Neuroscientist George Brainard has been testing the biological impact of light and its connection with those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). His studies have led him to predict that LED lights will soon displace all other forms of lighting because they offer more flexibility in brightness and color, improving overall health and well-being.
  • Making City Streets Smarter, More Efficient – Manufacturing.net: Lighting and software engineers are working on a new breed of LED street lights that contain sensors with the ability to gather traffic data. The traffic data collected could help ease congestion and help drivers avoid busy roads and intersections. These LEDs are building off of existing technologies that have the ability to dim outdoor lights when no one is around.

Rubicon Technology Develops World’s Largest Sapphire Crystal

In August 2012, Rubicon Technology announced a ground-breaking project to produce large-area sapphire windows of optical quality for military sensing applications. Dubbed Large-Area Net-shape Crystal Extraction (LANCE), the project was supported by a contract from the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Electronic & Sensors Branch, Materials & Manufacturing Directorate, totaling $4.7 million over three years.

Fast forward to today.

Rubicon announced it has reached a key project milestone — successfully producing the first-ever synthetic sapphire crystal of its size and thickness, coming in at an incredible 36 x 18 x 2 inches.

Sapphire Slab

Previous sapphire production methods were incapable of supporting the growth of quality sapphire at the size and thickness needed by the AFRL, so Rubicon developed a new growth platform to achieve the production of very large sapphire windows up to 2 inches thick. The process of creating sapphire of this size was incredibly complex and time-intensive, but Rubicon was determined to deliver a product unlike anything the market had ever seen before.

The military and other high-performance Industries desire sapphire at this size due to a variety of its qualities, including:

  • Strength
  • Optical clarity in the visible and infrared spectra
  • Hardness
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Thermal conductivity

Once thoroughly tested, the sapphire slab produced by Rubicon will be evaluated for use as infrared windows in extreme environments, such as space or the deep sea, where both durability and optical clarity are essential.  The potential uses are almost limitless.  Large-format sapphire will serve demanding applications in defense along with future commercial and industrial applications.

While the project is not yet complete, this is an encouraging breakthrough.

For more information on the LANCE project, visit http://www.rubicontechnology.com/research-development/project-lance-very-large-sapphire-windows.

Case number 88ABW-2015-0182

Rubicon Develops New Sapphire Growth Platform to Make Large Optical Windows

Sapphire Windows in Lockheed Martin f-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter

Sapphire Windows in Lockheed Martin f-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter

There are a lot of ways to make large commercial sapphire crystals.  But none of them really work for making large sapphire windows using sapphire’s a-plane. We mean really wide so that they can be used in a military plane as a targeting system window.  So, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) asked Rubicon Technology to develop a new growth platform for very large polished sapphire infrared (IR) windows.  The project is supported by a grant from the AFRL, with a total value of $4.7 million over three years.

Sapphire is perfect for military and other high-performance applications due to its hardness and strength, transparency in the visible and IR spectrum, thermal conductivity, thermal shock resistance, abrasion resistance, high melting point and chemical inertness.  The project will begin with intermediate sizes, then will step it up to windows as large as 36 x 18 x 0.8 inches.

Why do we need this new method?  Existing methods used to produce sapphire windows don’t meet the demands of military applications for thickness and size.  Rubicon’s new technological platform will grow panels approximately two inches thick, which can be cut into multiple windows of varying thickness.  The new method also allows growth of very large windows up to 36 x 18 inches. This is an improvement over smaller faceted windows that require piecing together for large applications.

The sapphire windows for the AFRL will be applied to fighter jet targeting systems. For example, the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lighting Joint Strike Fighter’s fuselage has a durable sapphire window in the fuselage for use by the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS).  The sapphire is preferred due to its durability, hardness and strength and the way it allows transmission light in the IR spectrum.

Links:

Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, http://airsoc.com/articles/view/id/4fe4b7f8c6f8fa2443000009/lockheed-martin-f-35-lightning-ii-joint-strike-fighter

Clearlysapphire.com. http://www.clearlysapphire.com/Optical__Lasers_Windows_.html

Rubicon Technology, http://rubicon-es2.com/index.php?page_id=23