NRL said April 23 that the lab has worke on spinel via a process called sintering over the last decade.
“Spinel is actually a mineral, it’s magnesium aluminate,” said Sanghera.
“The advantage is it’s so much tougher, stronger, harder than glass,” the research lead added.
Sanghera said the material is a technology built for unmanned autonomous vehicles and head-mounted face protection gears.
The research team uses a hot press to subject the material to a low-temperature process and cuts the spinel into pieces the size of the press.
Sanghera said the transparent material also “allows infrared light to go through it” and enables the military to use spinel as the window for imaging systems.
He cited other military and commercial applications of spinel such as maritime laser windows, consumer electronics, transparent armor for military vehicles and infrared camera protection, among others.
“Ultimately, we’re going to hand it over to industry, so it has to be a scalable process,” said Sanghera.