This Month in Sol-Gel (and Materials Chemistry/Physics) History

Donald B. Keck (Born 2 January 1941): American physicist who, in collaboration with Robert Maurer and Peter Schultz at Corning Glass, developed fused silica optical fibres, thus ushering in a revolution in telecommunications in which a fibre could carry around 65000 times more information that conventional copper conductors. The key to producing materials with optical losses sufficiently low for use in telecommunications was to dope the silica with titanium and, later, germanium. Keck was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1993. US President Bill Clinton awarded Keck and his colleagues the National Medal of Technology in 2000; the citation for the award read “Their invention has enabled the telecommunications revolution, rapidly transformed our society, the way we work, learn and live – and our expectations for the future. It is the basis for one of the largest, most dynamic industries in the world today” (see Corning Celebrates 45 Years on the Cutting Edge with Optical Fiber | Culture of Innovation | Corning; Glass Heroes | The Glass Age | Innovation | ; Donald B. Keck | Living History | Optica; National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee Donald Keck Invented Optic Fibers ; Donald Keck Wikipedia; and

Sir Alastair Pilkington (Born 7 January 1920): British industrialist who invented the float glass process for producing flat glass sheets with a high quality surface finish and parallel surfaces. The process involved withdrawing a continuous ribbon of molten glass from a furnace and floating the ribbon on a bed of molten tin. The glass was maintained at an elevated temperature on the molten metal bed for a sufficiently long time to enable any irregularities to be eliminated by gravity, thus avoiding expensive and time-consuming polishing steps. Today, around 260 float glass manufacturing plants are in operation. The Sir Alistair Pilkington Award, which recognises excellence in glass research and innovation is named for him (see Sir Alastair Pilkington; Pilkington Award (; Made up in Britain: Float Glass : Alastair Pilkington 1953 ; Alastair Pilkington – Wikipedia; and January 7 – Today in Science History – Scientists born on January 7th, died, and events).

Marga Faulstich (Died 1 February 1998; born 16 June 1915): German glass chemist who developed over 300 different types of optical glasses during her 44-year career working for Schott AG. Her studies in chemistry were disrupted by the second World War following the division of Germany into two independent nations. Her particular focus (no pun intended) was on the development of lenses for microscopes and binoculars, although she also received international recognition for inventing the SF 64 lightweight lens material (for which she was recognised by an IR100 award by the American Research Council in 1973). Her work is embedded in around 40 patents, and Google honoured her on its homepage via a doodle on 16 June 2018, which would have been her 103rd birthday. She was the first woman to serve as an Executive at Schott AG (see Marga Faulstich – The Master of Optical Glasses – TimesNext; Who was Marga Faulstich, the German inventor Google Doodle honours? – FYI News (; Germany′s Female Inventors | Culture | Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 08.03.2006; and Marga Faulstich – Wikipedia).