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Peter Hartmann wins Schott research prize

02 Oct 2013

New model predicts the strength of critical components used in telescopes and lithography systems more accurately.

Schott researcher and optics expert Peter Hartmann has won the company’s 2013 R&D prize for his development of a new model that predicts of the strength and service life of key mirror components with greater accuracy.

The well-known “ZERODUR” components are used in high-stress environments, including large astronomical mirrors and satellite applications, and Schott says that the work has led to even higher reliability, security and efficiency for customers and applications.

The glass-ceramic material on which ZERODUR components are based has an extremely low thermal expansion that is ideally suited for sophisticated applications where severe changes in temperature and static and dynamic stresses – such as in space - place high demands on construction materials.

In theory, that means a very high resistance to high bending stresses. But in reality, once they extend deeply enough, microcracks in the surface of the material can lead to breakage and complete component failure.

Better model
Thanks to Hartmann’s model, more accurate prediction of component strength is now possible. He showed that the conventional approach for determining the strength of glass and glass-ceramic, known as the “two-parameter Weibull distribution” needed improving.

The new approach provides a minimum strength value for defined surface conditions and enables the calculation of the service life under specified stress while considering material fatigue under stress. It also reduces statistical uncertainties and allows for considerably higher mechanical stresses to be applied to Schott’s ZERODUR components than was previously thought possible.

“This work documents a high degree of scientific and technical professionalism and demonstrates the outstanding material and technological expertise Schott has,” said company board member Hans-Joachim Konz at a ceremony where Hartmann, director of market and customer relations at the firm, received the award.

Konz added: “This work underscores our goal of offering benefits to our customers through our profound understanding of materials. This is thus an example of the successful link between science on the one hand and technical marketing on the other.”

Owned by the Carl Zeiss Foundation and headquartered in Mainz, Germany, Schott is one the optics world’s most recognized names – and also one of the biggest. In the 2011/2012 fiscal year, its workforce of around 16,000 employees across 35 countries generated worldwide sales of approximately €2 billion.

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