Beijing: Chinese researchers have created a special glass that can help protect living cells by absorbing and blocking damaging ultraviolet rays.
Out in space, where the level of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can be even higher, it can damage sensitive electronics aboard in-flight spacecraft.
In this study published in the journal Optical Materials Express, the team demonstrated that the new glass effectively protects living cells and organic dyes, and believe it could also be developed as a transparent shield to protect electronics in space.
"Our glass shows excellent optical quality, and it can be easily fabricated either in bulk form or as a film," said one of the researchers Shifeng Zhou from South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China.
"It effectively protects organic dye and living cells from UV radiation damage," Zhou noted.
The researchers used a metal oxide --cerium (IV) oxide (CeO2) -- well-known for its ability to absorb UV photons to craft the composite glass-based UV absorber.
Other key features of the final composite material are the optical transparency of the glass and the material's ability to suppress the separation of photo-generated electrons and holes.
The later feature slows down a light-induced reaction that would lead to the ultimate breakdown of the material under prolonged exposure to UV radiation.
The method the team developed is based on a process called self-limited nanocrystallisation of glass.
"This work establishes an effective approach for the functionalization of glass," Zhou said.
"And it allowed us to demonstrate the construction of a novel glass-based UV absorber," Zhou pointed out.