How and why does sand turn to glass when heated? What physically happens to the sand?
Here’s some sand under a microscope
As you can see, it looks just like tiny bits of glass. That’s because it is. Sand and glass are primarily silicon dioxide, although you often find impurities that give it color. Quartz is also silicon dioxide, but the difference isn’t chemical, it’s structural. Sand and glass have disorganized molecules which point every which way, while quartz is made up of regular crystals.
When you melt sand, it becomes “amorphous” like in the right hand diagram. Quartz has to develop under particular conditions, like diamonds do. A lot of sand is ground quartz and when you heat it to melting, it becomes amorphous. Once you melt it, the silicon and oxygen atoms start attaching to each other so, when you cool them, they stick together instead of staying in discrete pieces. Imagine taking a bunch of ice cubes, melting them, then putting the whole container back in the freezer - you wind up with one big ice cube.
Opera News is a free to use platform and the views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not represent, reflect or express the views of Opera News. Any/all written content and images displayed are provided by the blogger/author, appear herein as submitted by the blogger/author and are unedited by Opera News. Opera News does not consent to nor does it condone the posting of any content that violates the rights (including the copyrights) of any third party, nor content that may malign, inter alia, any religion, ethnic group, organization, gender, company, or individual. Opera News furthermore does not condone the use of our platform for the purposes encouraging/endorsing hate speech, violation of human rights and/or utterances of a defamatory nature. If the content contained herein violates any of your rights, including those of copyright, and/or violates any the above mentioned factors, you are requested to immediately notify us using via the following email address operanews-external(at)opera.com and/or report the article using the available reporting functionality built into our Platform