Dr. Germán F. de la Fuente, Ph.D. in Chemistry is a Research Professor of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), working at the Aragón Institute for Materials Science (ICMA). He has specialised in developing surface coating and modification processing methods for ceramics, glasses, metals and C nanostructures. He has started the Laser Applications Laboratory at ICMA about 25 years ago, developing Laser induced Zone Melting methods to control solidification and microstructure in both, Superconductor and Eutectic Ceramics. He later established facilities for Laser Ablation of materials with the objective of developing original, large-area surface and coatings fabrication methods, in addition to original C nanostructure preparative techniques based on laser irradiation of graphitic and molecular precursors. His work has attracted attention from several industries, resulting in a large number of projects with Industrial partners at the local, national and European levels. He is the co-inventor of 10 patents, the coauthor of more than 150 scientific papers and has coordinated a large number of publicly and privately funded projects based on the use of laser technology developed in his research group.
Limits in temperature processes involved in the manufacture of ceramics and glass are related, in part, to their composition and thermal properties. In particular, common window glass may not be transformed at temperatures above 670°C, as it looses its shape and, consequently, becomes useless for its expected applications. On the other hand, most common ceramic tiles may be processed at temperatures approaching 1100-1200 °C, yielding attractive aesthetic and mechanical properties. In both cases, it would be still desirable to improve their surfaces to yield products with properties such as extreme wear and scratch resistance, while keeping their most attractive aesthetic finish. Current thermal technologies are unable to achieve selective modification of the material surface, without making the volume of the material useless and unattractive from the commercial point of view. This presentation will overview our patented (US and China, EU pending) Laser Furnace technology, highlighting the advantages which enable processing of ceramic tiles and flat glass under extreme conditions. The surface temperatures reached, under a continuous production process, yield ceramic and glass materials with unprecedented properties and open the way to a new processing paradigm. This will result, in the near future, in ceramics and glass with unexpected superior performance.