Transparent plastics and their role in modern construction

February 19, 2022 · Admin

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Many plastics are safe, long lasting, and low-cost to manufacture. That makes plastics a remarkable substance in and of itself. When it is transparent, though, plastic truly shines as a material for a wide range of applications. There are a few other substances that are clear, such as glass, or at the very least translucent, such as wax paper. Plastic, on the other hand, is unique, and the science underlying its clarity is based on the tiniest of details, the monomers.

Polymers are made up of monomers (small molecules) that link together to form long, sometimes complex chains. Amorphous (unordered) and crystalline (neatly ordered) molecular chains coexist in most polymers. The crystallinity of a polymer can affect the plastic material's clarity.

Though for laymen the difference between clear and opaque is pretty basic and all kind of plastics through which the other side is visible is considered transparent, for scientists, it's not that easy. There are two methods for determining a material's clarity.

The 'refractive index,' for example, is a measurement of how much light is refracted or bent through a substance. Light does not bend very much when it passes through a clear substance. The clearer a substance is, the less light has to bend through it.

Transparency is another test of clarity. What is the ease with which light can pass through a substance? The Standard Test Method for Haze and Luminous Transmittance of Transparent Plastics' is used to determine this. This ASTM test determines the quantity of light that can pass through a material. The greater the value, the more light can pass through and the clearer the substance.

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