Researchers in the US have developed a new type of textured glass that they claim is glare free and could either be self-cleaning or highly anti-fogging. The surface of the material – described as "multifunctional" glass – has a nanotextured array of conical features that is coated in a surfactant, giving the glass its desirable properties.
Inspired by nature
According to the researchers, the inspiration for their multifunctional glass came from nature – where many biological surfaces perform multiple specific tasks. For their work, they looked at everything from water-repellent lotus leaves to the Namib Desert beetle, which is capable of collecting water from fog on its hardened wings, and to moth eyes that helped develop anti-reflective coating.
One of the most instantly recognizable features of glass is the way it reflects light. But a new way of creating surface textures on glass, developed by researchers at MIT, virtually eliminates reflections, producing glass that is almost unrecognizable because of its absence of glare — and whose surface causes water droplets to bounce right off, like tiny rubber balls.
The technology is described in a paper published in the journal ACS Nano,
co-authored by mechanical engineering graduate students Kyoo-Chul Park
and Hyungryul Choi, former postdoc Chih-Hao Chang SM ’04, PhD ’08 (now
at North Carolina State University), chemical engineering professor
Robert Cohen, and mechanical engineering professors Gareth McKinley and
The technology could be used for a variety of applications. The glass
could replace the touchscreens used in smartphones, tablets and PC
displays. The self-cleaning nature of the glass could also be used in
solar panels, which can lose efficiency over time due to accumulated
dust and dirt. Solar panels protected by the new glass could avoid these
dust problems and perform more optimally. The researchers are also
looking to use the glass in microscopes and cameras as well as
televisions and even windows.
The research was funded by the Army Research Office and the Air Force
Office of Scientific Research as well as Singapore's National Research
Foundation and the Xerox Foundation. The works is published in the April
8 edition of the journal ACS Nano