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Discovering Science And Technology Of Glass From Candy Making

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Lab Experiments in Materials Science

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.432.1 - 7.432.7

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Paper Authors

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Isha H. Jain

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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Session 3264

Discovering the Science and Technology of Glass Formation from Candy Making

H. Jain and I. H. Jain Department of Materials Science and Engineering Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015

Abstract Glass is a material that has been used for centuries in numerous common, consumer applications. In recent decades, it has become one of the key high-tech materials for applications in thermal insulation, optical communication and microelectronics. Notwithstanding its importance, the average student's understanding of glass science and technology remains very primitive, partly because of its ill-defined structure and complex behavior. Therefore, to illustrate the underlying principles of this class of materials, we have proposed a set of laboratory demonstrations involving sucrose, water and corn starch (the major ingredients of common candy). These low cost simple experiments provide a convenient paradigm for the numerous features of a prototypic glass. The students' feedback has been very positive as they find the unusual experiments exciting, and can relate to the results from previous experiences.

Introduction Glass is a common material that has been known to man for several thousand years. Early applications of glass such as in windows, containers, lenses, tableware, jewelry depended on their transparency, luster and durability. Many recent high-tech applications such as optical fiber for high-speed communication or dielectrics in microelectronics also exploit some such qualities, but these are neither necessary nor sufficient attributes for a material to be called as glass. A general definition of glass is that it is 'a solid with liquid like structure', 'a noncrystalline solid' or simply 'an amorphous solid'. 1 None of these definitions is very helpful to typical engineering students, even the ones majoring in Materials Science and Engineering, so that they can appreciate the characteristics of this important class of material. Clearly, an experimental demonstration of the essential features of glass will go long way in a student's learning of this subject. The candy experiments described here not only illustrate well the science and technology of glass, but also serve as excellent paradigm due to the students' pre-existing familiarity and interest in the topic. 2 Interestingly, both the glass making and the candy making share same underlying principles, although the two technologies developed independently as empirical art in ancient times. Common glasses such as the ones used in windows, tableware, bottles, etc. are based on silicon dioxide (SiO 2 ) (a.k.a. silica or common sand) as the main constituent. Silica is one of the best glass-formers, which can be made as glass readily by cooling from the molten state. Among glass forming oxides it has one of the highest glass transition temperature (Tg) 3 , strength,

1 “Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

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Jain, I. H. (2002, June), Discovering Science And Technology Of Glass From Candy Making Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada.

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