A new type of nano-structured glass can bounce water and dirt off its surface, cleaning itself and preventing fogging, according to MIT researchers. It eliminates glare, too, allowing light to penetrate with pure clarity. It could be used for anything from solar panels to future car windshields to new gadget screens.
The superhydrophobic glass shares some properties with the super-waterproof fabric coating we learned about this week, and it, too, is a feat of nano-engineering. But instead of a waterproof coating, it earns its special properties through a special etching process. Kyoo-Chul Park, Hyungryul Choi and colleagues drew inspiration from nature, including zebra plants, which contain conical structures that repel water. They developed a method to embed an array of steeply angled cones on the surface of glass.
Using techniques from the semiconductor industry, the team coated a glass surface with several layers of material that they then etched away according to a specified pattern. The nanostructured cones are 200 nanometers at the base and about a micron high.
Initially, it's water-loving, but a simple vapor deposition process renders the material hydrophobic, the researchers say. The coating is not only completely transparent, but reduces glare, too. To test its waterproof capabilities, the team poured a droplet of water on the surface, filmed it with a Phantom high-speed camera and watched it form an almost perfect spherical bead.
There are plenty of applications for such a self-cleaning, water-repelling surface, not the least of which is solar panels, which are only as effective as they are clean and clear. Dirt and crud can block the photovoltaic cells' ability to capture sunlight, and the reflective properties of glass direct some sunlight away from the cells, especially when the sun is at a sharp angle relative to the glass. But this new surface coating would eliminate all those problems, the researchers say.
The paper was just accepted for publication in the journal ACS Nano.
[via MIT News]
"Kyoo-Chul Park, Hyungryul Choi"
Sounds real American. Most students and researchers at US universities are now foreigners. We only need 1 big economic mistake in Washington and an exodus will begin. And why shouldn't they. With almost 16 Trillion in debt and quickly rising the beginning of big economic turmoil isn`t too many years off. The Brain-Drain is already happening in particle physics with so many moved and many still moving to Europe. And we haven`t seen anything yet. What a shame. And now they want to start a war in Iran because Israel is lobbying for it? Man. So crazy.
I wonder if they just mix it with SLIPS that was reported earlier??
I would love to have this technology for my glasses.....glasses that clean themselves!
@ Cookiees 453, I've got to agree with you there. I don't know why glasses wasn't the first use to be brought up. I already pay ~ $200 for a pair of glasses then I have to add the anti-glare and anti-fog just to have those coatings wear down every time I clean my glasses. Which is alot. I guess they just figure that everyone with bad eyesight will just go and let a guy shine a laser in their eye.