Truly Great Optics: Celebrating the International Year of Glass

10 February 2022
Official logo of the International Year of Glass 2022

On 10-11 February, at the Palace of Nations in Geneva, the International Year of Glass is kicking off its official opening with a dynamic range of speakers that includes CREOL's Kathleen Richardson and Leonid Glebov, ETH Zurich's Lukas Novotny, University of Alberta's Courtney Calahoo, and Schott CEO Frank Heinricht. The ceremony, of which SPIE is a sponsor, will be livestreamed on the official IYOG opening ceremony website.

In May of 2021, at the UN General Council meeting, 2022 was declared the United Nations International Year of Glass to underline the elemental material's scientific, economic, and cultural roles. The initial effort was supported by the International Commission on Glass, the Community of Glass Associations (CGA), and the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Glass (ICOM-Glass), as well as by 1,500 universities and research centers, societies and associations, museums, artists, educators, manufacturers, and companies in 78 countries on five continents. SPIE is a sponsor of the year-long celebration.

Included among the plans for globe-wide activities are glass-focused seminars, industrial fairs, as well as artistic exhibitions. Already in place are the opening conference in Geneva, an ICG Congress in Berlin, a Glass Expo in China with satellite events, and art and history congresses in Egypt, the US, and Europe. Dedicated issues of international journals will be printed, exhibitions are planned in museums using public and private glass collections, and educational materials are being prepared for wide dissemination.

Throughout the year, a few areas of focus regarding the vital place of glass in our daily lives will include:

  • As an enabler of fiber optics, glass is one of the primary conduits of information in our knowledge-based society.
  • Glass is the container for many of today's life-saving medicines and provides other health-related advances.
  • Glass sheets support solar cells and provide clean energy. Glass fibers reduce our carbon footprint by strengthening wind turbine blades and insulating our homes.
  • The evolution of glass optics and optoelectronics has allowed the James Webb space telescope can study the first moments after the big bang and expand understanding of the Universe.
  • Glass melting is being decarbonised and glass products are being safely recycled.
  • Glass artists across the globe have given humankind an awareness of this wonderful material including its remarkable methods of fabrication, inherent beauty, and ability to capture and display nature's full spectrum of color.
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