Microscopically textured glass could lead to glare-free smartphone screens

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Forget sapphire glass. A new process recently discovered by material scientists produces glass screens that are almost water- and glare-proof.

Dealing with glare in bright light is one of the biggest problems with smartphones. A new paper out of the Institute for Photonic Sciences in Barcelona (ICFO) in conjunction with Corning — the makers of Gorilla Glass — describes a way to fabricate screens that are more glare and reflection resistant than glasses currently on the market.

The ICFO team, led by industrial professor Valerio Pruneri, created the glass by using acid and copper nanoparticles to add texture at micro and nano scales. First, they roughed up a glass surface at the micro level, which causes light to scatter in many directions instead of reflecting directly back at the person looking at the glass. Then the researchers etched nano-sized teeth into the surface to reduce reflectivity. Both types of incisions in the glass are too small to affect transparency.

The key to the new glass surface is that it combines both micro- and nanoscale textures. The micro level texture fights off glare and the anti-reflection nanoscale surface is applied on top of that. The larger texture helps protect the smaller, nano-sized surface. As an added bonus, the researchers found the glass surface repelled water significantly better than conventional glass.

Although the team says the process is inexpensive to produce and easy to scale, further research is needed to ensure the surface is as durable as modern smartphone glass. But considering the research was funded and conducted in part by Corning, one of the largest American manufacturers of glass and ceramics, it’s likely an industrial researcher is looking into that now.

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