The sol-gel method is a cost-effective and convenient way to prepare mono and multicomponent glasses and ceramics, some of which would not be possible to be used by conventional processes. This is because of the use of homogeneous liquid solutions and the ability to form gels at room temperature. Sol-gel processing refers to the low temperature method using chemical precursors which in turn leads to ceramics and glass with higher purity and better homogeneity than high temperature conventional processes.
The applications of sol-derived products are numerous, and one of the major applications is in coatings and thin films used in electronic, optical and electro-optic components and devices such as substrates, capacitors, memory devices, and infrared detectors. Anti-reflection coatings are used for automotive and architectural applications. Sol-gel can also be used to infiltrate fiber performs to make composites.
Glass coatings and inorganic/organic hybrids have potential optical applications including optical filters, chemical sensors, passive and nonlinear active waveguides, and lasers. Moreover, biomedical applications have been incorporated in the sol-gel matrices. Applications include biochemical processes monitoring, environmental testing, food processing, and drug delivery for medicine or agriculture. Other biomedical applications include coatings for metal implants and bone grafting materials. Cosmetic applications include sunscreen lotions and makeup that have UV absorbers.
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