Monday, 30 July 2012

What is the principle of photo-chromatic glasses?

Photo-chromatic glasses become dark (activated) when kept under bright light especially when the wavelength of the incident light is in the range of 320-400 nm(nanometres).Darkened glasses get bleached when kept in the dark or under light of longer wavelenghts, 550-650 nm.Both these processes occur simultaneously during daylight and the glass's transparency depends on the predominant reaction taking place in it.
                     These processes are based on the possibility to split and recombine silver and chloride ions in silver chloride using light of different wavelenghts.It is the same principle which is used in photography also. However, in photography, the chlorine and silver ions are separated and not allowed to recombine. In photochromatic glasses, the chloride ions cannot diffuse far away from the silver ions as they are held tightly in a glass matrix. Hence when the 'activating energy' is withdrawn, they recombine to form silver halide. The speed(or rate) of the reaction depends on the doping level of the halide with a catalyst(cooper).
                   Choice of the halides, crystals' size (usually 40-100 Angstroms), concentration, glass type and sensitising dopants are all factors that decide the final behaviour of photochromatic glasses used in light-control, displays, memory applications and optical data processing.

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