Researches at MIT have developed an innovative glass production technique that eliminates glare from specialized glass, potentially changing forever the lens through which we view much of our world.
In this new manufacturing process, thin layers of material are deposited onto a surfaced and then selectively etched away, creating millions of tiny cone-like structures that whisk water away from their surface while eliminating reflections.
This fabrication approach is based loosely off MIT’s developments in production for the semiconductor industry. The subsequent cones are five times as tall as their 200 nanometer width, and researches say that future production processes may involve a simple roller over a partially-molten glass mold.
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The advances represent innovation via biomimicry – drawing inspiration from natural systems, especially biological ones. Lotus leaves and desert-beetle carapaces were studied to discover how nanotextures affect water and grime distribution.
The innovation stands to impact many industries, including electronics, automobiles, and even energy, as photovoltaic paneling can lose up to forty percent of its efficiency because of dust accumulation or reflection of sunlight away from photovoltaic cells. With self-cleaning, glare-free glass, solar energy could become drastically more efficient and easier to maintain.
Building windows also stand to benefit from the process, if it can be scaled up and made much cheaper – the aquaphobic surfaces will dramatically reduce the need to constantly clean windows, and could improve natural lighting capabilities.