Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017     Views: 2006

I also struggled to find information on this in our technical collection, which, admittedly, is rather small, since we focus on the art and history of glass. I ended up asking a scientist at Corning, Inc. for his help! I'm going to quote his response below, just to make sure I don't misstate anything:

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Glass only breaks when tensile stresses cause a critical flaw to propagate as a crack. It isn't low temperature per se that would cause glass to break, but a temperature change, usually a decrease, that could cause temporary stresses that would be large enough to propagate a crack. For certain kinds of glass products, this is seen in a test called thermal downshock, where a hot glass article is plunged into, for instance, ice water. The stress generated is a function of the temperature difference, the thermal expansion coefficient of the glass, and the geometry (mostly thickness and shape) of the article. As the surface cools quickly and contracts, tensile stresses can be large enough to cause breakage. Companies that make bakeware pay attention to this.

Glass containers are used for liquid nitrogen and perhaps for liquid helium, so there isn't anything about uniform low temperature that would cause a problem.

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I hope this helps. If you need further documentation on this you might want to contact one of the resources below. These are places we generally refer people to who ask technical questions we can't answer within the scope of our collection:

1)The Scholes Library at Alfred University, New York State College of Ceramics. They have a substantial collection of technical information about glass. Pat Lacourse answers technical reference questions (email:lacourpc@alfred.edu). Their reference desk number is: 607-871-2951. Their library catalog is available for searching on the web: http://scholes.alfred.edu.

2) The Glass Division of the American Ceramic Society (Columbus, Ohio) Website: http://www.acers.org/ The American Ceramic Society, P.O. Box 6136, Westerville, Ohio 43086-6136 ; Phone: 614/890-4700 ; FAX: 614/899-6109 ; E-Mail: info@acers.org

3) The Society of Glass Technology in Sheffield, UK: Website: http://www.societyofglasstechnology.org.uk/; Don Valley House, Savile Street East, Sheffield S4 7UQ, UK ;Tel: +44(0)114 263 4455 ; Fax +44(0)114 263 4411 ; e-mail: info@sgt.org