Borosilicate Glass vs. Quartz Glass: A Comprehensive Comparison for Industry Applications

In the realm of industrial glass, two materials often stand out due to their remarkable properties: borosilicate glass and quartz glass. Both types of glass are renowned for their durability, resistance to thermal shock, and versatility in high-temperature applications. 

However, each has unique characteristics that make it suitable for different purposes. Let us delve into the specifics of borosilicate glass vs. quartz glass, helping you determine which material is best suited for your needs.

Understanding Borosilicate Glass

Borosilicate glass is a type of glass with silica and boron trioxide as the main glass-forming constituents. It is known for its superior thermal shock resistance and low coefficient of thermal expansion. This means it can withstand significant temperature changes without cracking or breaking.

Properties of Borosilicate Glass

✔️ Thermal Shock Resistance: Borosilicate glass can endure rapid temperature changes, making it ideal for laboratory glassware and cookware.
✔️ Low Coefficient of Thermal Expansion: Its low expansion rate minimizes the risk of breaking when exposed to temperature variations.
✔️ Chemical Resistance: Borosilicate glass is resistant to many chemicals, including acids and bases, which makes it suitable for use in chemical laboratories.
✔️ Easier processing: Compared to quartz glass, borosilicate glass is easier to process. This property simplifies production and reduces costs, making borosilicate glass a practical choice for various industrial applications.
✔️ Smooth Surface: The smooth surface of borosilicate glass makes it easy to clean and maintain.

Understanding Quartz Glass

Quartz glass, also known as fused quartz, is made from pure silica (SiO2). It offers exceptional thermal properties and can withstand extremely high temperatures without losing its integrity.

Properties of Quartz Glass

✔️ High-Temperature Resistance: Quartz glass can withstand higher temperatures compared to borosilicate glass, making it ideal for high-temperature applications.
✔️ Excellent Thermal Shock Resistance: It has a high thermal conductivity and can handle rapid temperature changes.
✔️ Optical Clarity: Quartz glass is highly transparent and is used in optical applications.
✔️ Chemical Purity: Due to its high purity, quartz glass does not react with most chemicals.

Borosilicate vs. Quartz Glass: A Direct Comparison

When comparing borosilicate glass vs. quartz glass, it’s essential to understand their distinct properties and how these attributes influence their suitability for different applications.

Thermal Properties

Borosilicate Glass: 

  • Thermal Shock Resistance: 
    Borosilicate glass is known for its excellent thermal shock resistance, which is far more resilient than quartz glass. This property makes it suitable for applications where the glass is subjected to rapid temperature changes. 
    For instance, in laboratory settings, borosilicate glassware can be quickly transferred from a hot environment to a cold one without cracking. This makes it ideal for laboratory beakers, flasks, and test tubes.
  • Low Coefficient of Thermal Expansion: 
    Borosilicate glass expands and contracts very little when subjected to temperature changes. This stability makes it useful in applications where dimensional precision is important, such as in precision glassware and some types of telescopic lenses.

Quartz Glass: 

  • High-Temperature Resistance: 
    Borosilicate glass is unsuitable for applications requiring temperatures above 500°C, while fused silica is characterized by its ability to withstand much higher temperatures, typically up to around 1200°C to 1500°C, depending on its specific composition and purity. 
    This makes quartz glass indispensable in applications that require exposure to elevated temperatures, such as in the semiconductor industry, where quartz glass is used in furnaces and other high-temperature processing equipment.
  • Thermal Conductivity: 
    Quartz glass has excellent thermal conductivity, which allows it to efficiently dissipate heat. This property is particularly valuable in high-power lighting and laser systems, where components must handle significant heat loads without degrading.

Chemical Resistance

Borosilicate Glass: 

  • Chemical Durability: 
    Borosilicate glass is highly resistant to a wide range of chemicals, including acids and bases. This makes it suitable for laboratory glassware that comes into contact with various reactive substances. For instance, it is often used in titration and distillation apparatus due to its ability to withstand corrosive chemicals without degrading.
    Although quartz glass has a higher chemical resistance according to DIN 12116, borosilicate glass is easier to mold and can withstand strong class B acids. Borosilicate glass is therefore sufficiently suitable for many applications and is more cost-effective than quartz glass.
  • Everyday Chemical Use: 
    In addition to laboratory use, borosilicate glass is resistant to household chemicals, making it ideal for kitchenware that needs to handle food acids and cleaning agents without damage.

Quartz Glass: 

  • High Chemical Purity: 
    Quartz glass stands out for its chemical purity and resistance, making it ideal for environments where contamination must be avoided. This includes high-purity chemical processing and semiconductor manufacturing, where quartz glass components ensure that no unwanted reactions occur.
  • Aggressive Chemical Environments: 
    Quartz glass is used in highly reactive environments such as reactors and vessels handling strong acids (e.g., hydrofluoric acid) and other aggressive chemicals. Its resistance to chemical attack ensures the longevity and safety of the equipment, preventing costly damage and contamination.

Mechanical Strength

Borosilicate Glass: 

  • Mechanical Durability: 
    Borosilicate glass can endure mechanical stress better than many other types of glass. It is less prone to breakage from impacts or rough handling, making it suitable for everyday laboratory glassware and kitchenware.
  • Flexibility: 
    The slight flexibility of borosilicate glass contributes to its durability. For example, in laboratory settings where glassware may be knocked or handled roughly, borosilicate glass is less likely to crack or shatter.

Quartz Glass: 

  • Mechanical Robustness: 
    While quartz glass is also strong, it excels particularly in environments requiring both high mechanical strength and thermal resistance. This combination is crucial in industries like aerospace, where components must withstand both mechanical stress and high temperatures.
  • High Purity and Strength: 
    The high purity of quartz glass contributes to its mechanical strength, especially in environments where both chemical and mechanical integrity are critical, such as in the manufacture of optical fibers for telecommunications.

Which Glass is Right for You?

Choosing between borosilicate glass and quartz glass depends on your specific needs and the demands of your application. If you require a material that can handle high temperatures up to about 1200°C to 1500°C and offers superior chemical purity, quartz glass is the better choice. 

However, if you require a versatile glass with excellent thermal shock resistance and chemical resistance for laboratory or household use, borosilicate glass will likely meet your needs. It is a more cost-effective choice in many industrial applications where temperatures over 500 °C are not required. Its processing properties facilitate the molding and casting of complex shapes.

For those looking to purchase high-quality quartz glass for their applications, Quartz Solutions offers a range of products tailored to meet the highest industry standards. 

You are welcome to contact our experienced quartz glass specialists to learn more about our products and services, or buy quartz glass suited to your specific requirements.