Glass. It's great stuff, right? Except that the reflection and glare coming off of it is often problematic, and it gets grimy easily, and can be hard to see through when water drops stick to it or streak across it. It can be such a disappointing material. But researchers at MIT have come up with a novel solution for these problems, and thus can solve a lot of problems created by these downsides of glass.
According to MIT News, the researchers have developed a way to add texture to the surface of glass that eliminates glare and makes water drops bounce right off, taking the dust with it. The inspiration came from nature, as many surfaces such as those of lotus leaves naturally repel water and dirt because of certain textures.
Here is a video showing the water-repellent feature:
The researchers essentially came up with a surface of nanoscale cones, each five times as tall as it is wide. The texture is created by adding layers of nanomaterial to the surface of glass and etching away parts of it.
It's more than just good news for your cell phone, it's great news for technologies like solar panels, microscopes and cameras, even car windshields. As the article notes, PV panels can lose as much as 40% efficiency after six months of collecting dust. If a solar panel can be cleaned in a downpour, rather than made more dirty, then the cost of their maintenance and their overall efficiency will greatly improve. "In addition," states the article, "the panel would be more efficient because more light would be transmitted through its surface, instead of being reflected away — especially when the sun’s rays are inclined at a sharp angle to the panel. At such times, such as early mornings and late afternoons, conventional glass might reflect away more than 50 percent of the light, whereas an anti-reflection surface would reduce the reflection to a negligible level."
Now that is promising.