Oh, it's so sparkly!
Have you ever picked up one of our pieces or another piece of art glass and smiled as it caught the light and sparkled? The chances are you were looking at Dichroic Glass.
Dichroic glass (pronounced "dye-CROW-ick") means "two colors" in Greek. The name is fitting because it appears to have more than one color, especially when viewed under different types of light. This reflective phenomenon is known as thin-film physics. It's the same reason you see rainbows in a soap bubble, on top of oil, or on the wings of a lovely dragonfly.
Dichroic Glass has brought joy to people since at least the Roman Empire. A fourth-century vessel known as The Lycurgus Cup is a Roman glass cage cup made of Dichroic Glass. The colors on this beautiful cup appear different depending on whether or not light is passing through. It is red when lit from behind and green when lit from in front. The effect was achieved by using trace amounts of gold and silver in just the right measurements.
More recently, NASA used dichroic glass in the 1950s and 1960s. Scientists and engineers vaporized metals with electron beams and applied them to surfaces in ultra-thin layers transparent to the human eye. This coating was used to protect spacecraft technology from harmful radiation. Today, Dichroic Glass is most often used in jewelry, beads, and art.
Dichroic Glass is a multi-layer coating placed on glass using a highly technical vacuum deposition process. Quartz Crystal and Metal Oxides are Vaporized with an electron beam gun in an airless vacuum chamber. The vapor floats upward, attaches, and then condenses on the surface of the glass in the form of a crystal structure. Even though companies producing Dichroic Glass may combine 30 or more layers of these materials, the thickness of the total coating is only about 35 millionths of an inch.
The main characteristic of Dichroic Glass is that it has a transmitted color and a completely different reflective color. These two colors shift depending on the angle of view. With the play of light together with its vibrant color, Dichroic Glass is a prime tool used to add interest to any piece of work or project.