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Summary:

If a smartphone or tablet with glass that’s glare-free, repels liquids and is self-cleaning sounds appealing, you might want to start following MIT’s research. By adding layers on glass that are then selectively removed, microscopic cones are created and provide these desirable characteristics.

mit-antiglare-glass

If a smartphone or tablet with glass that’s glare-free, repels liquids and is self-cleaning sounds appealing, you might want to start following MIT’s research. The university published a paper describing one of their new discoveries: Glass that would be perfect for mobile devices.

The secret sauce of the research is layers of glass that are selectively removed to create microscopic cones. This nanotech innovation adds the desirable characteristics for this wonder glass.

From the MIT News site:

“The new “multifunctional” glass, based on surface nanotextures that produce an array of conical features, is self-cleaning and resists fogging and glare, the researchers say. Ultimately, they hope it can be made using an inexpensive manufacturing process that could be applied to optical devices, the screens of smartphones and televisions, solar panels, car windshields and even windows in buildings.”

The glass would essentially look nearly invisible because of the lack of glare, fog or any other visual cue that the eye can see. And the water beading attribute turns into a glass cleaner of sorts. Check this video showing the beads rolling off the glass and pulling dust where the droplets bounce off.

Obviously as the MIT News site indicates, this technology could be used in a wide array of products. If it can be lent to the touchscreen display market, phone and tablets could offer a more immersive experience: Interacting with a screen you can’t see would be more akin to interacting directly with the user interface elements.

Solar panels, too, could benefit from such an innovation. If solar panels installed on roofs and on the ground could repel liquid and even be self cleaning, that could help the panels provide as much optimal power as possible. Solar panels need to be cleaned periodically to work properly.

It may not even cost that much to include this tech in certain types of glass manufacturing. As MIT notes, “[I]n the future glass or transparent polymer films might be manufactured with such surface features simply by passing them through a pair of textured rollers while still partially molten; such a process would add minimally to the cost of manufacture.”

The only question I have left is: Will it hide all of the residue from those screen taps or will our mobile devices still be a magnet for fingerprints?

  1. “Will it hide all of the residue from those screen taps or will our mobile devices still be a magnet for fingerprints?”

    I guess that depends on whether the nano-texture is both oleophobic as well as hydrophobic. Also, I’d imagine scratching the surface would damage the mesoscale structures and render the effect useless in that localized region.

  2. Peter Barker Monday, May 21, 2012

    This sounds to me like an invention.. and it had to be the MIT again. Kudos!!

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