In 2015 Solar-Tectic LLC ("ST") announced plans to develop sapphire glass.ST announced that it has succeeded in developing this sapphire glass using its patent pending technique which was reported on in Materials Letters, a peer reviewed journal
The new sapphire glass technique involves the deposition of a highly transparent crystalline Al2O3 (aluminum oxide) thin-film on ordinary soda-lime glass, via a thin buffer layer, using a simple and common deposition technique (e-beam evaporation), thus achieving a breakthrough material which is much less expensive and much lighter than single crystal sapphire, and easily scalable for manufacturing and commercialization. The sapphire film is extremely thin which is important for cost reduction in manufacturing. In recent years Apple Inc. and others have tried without success in making cost effective sapphire glass for smartphone covers.
In addition to anti-scratch, ceramic glass products are an important part of ST solar technology since they can be used for the deposition of highly textured (oriented), good quality semiconductor films on inexpensive substrates for efficient photovoltaic, display, and LED electronics. ST ceramic glass can also be conducting, as in the case of titanium nitride (TiN) for example. A distinguishing feature of ST's approach is to make films that have "texture" or preferential orientation which means the crystals in the films are aligned -- greatly improving the electronic properties of materials.
Remarkably, the new sapphire glass has a MOHS 8 (verified by a 3rd party independent institution). Single crystal sapphire has a MOHS 9. Therefore, the ST sapphire glass is close to single crystal sapphire in hardness. This is the first time this hardness has ever been achieved on ordinary soda-lime glass. Al2O3 is one of the hardest materials known, second only to diamond.
ST is also developing this approach using laser instead of e-beam. ST will be optimizing the films with the aim of achieving MOHS 9, and all kinds of glass substrates can be used in the process, including quartz.
About Solar-Tectic LLC ("ST"): Solar-Tectic LLC is a thin-film specialist with patented technology primarily focused on developing highly textured (oriented), single crystal semiconductor films on glass or other inexpensive substrates. The company has a wide portfolio of technologies and IP towards this end, providing solutions to the solar and display industries based primarily on inventions by the late Dr. Praveen Chaudhari, materials physicist and winner of the US National Medal of Technology and Innovation (1995). All the technologies being developed are consistent with Solar-Tectic's mission to provide cleaner and more accessible energy to fight climate change and poverty rampant in the world today. Solar-Tectic LLC's primary focus in this regard is solar cells, but also extends to LEDs. Recently several papers have been published in a peer reviewed journal reporting advances in R&D.