MIT researchers have created a type of glass that is nearly invisible. MIT News reports that the glass and the process of creating it were described in a paper published by the journal ACS Nano. The paper is titled (get ready) "Nanotextured Silica Surfaces with Robust Super-Hydrophobicity and Omnidirectional Broadband Super-Transmissivity."
The abstract to the paper describes the structure of the glass:
Taking cues from nature, we use tapered conical nanotextures to fabricate the multifunctional surfaces; the slender conical features result in large topographic roughness whilst the axial gradient in the effective refractive index minimizes reflection through adiabatic index-matching between air and the substrate.
Right. What all this means is that the researchers (Kyoo-Chul Park, Hyungryul J. Choi, Chih-Hao Chang, Robert E. Cohen, Gareth H. McKinley, and George Barbastathis) have created a technique to manufacture a glass textured in such a way that it "virtually eliminates glare." This means the glass is almost perfectly see-through, something that is hard to even imagine. The researchers state the glass is also anti-fogging and self-cleaning, making it perfect for windows.
All I can think is that this type of glass is going to cause problems and break noses the world-over. However, a little more thought reveals what the plan undoubtedly is. Glare is really only an issue for the screens we use daily. Unless you are reading this on an e-reader or in the dark, chances are you are contending with glare right now. Glare-free monitors and touchscreen devices just got closer, thanks to these researchers. Also, a fog-free car windshield would save a lot of time on those cold winter mornings. The researchers also mention photovoltaic solar cells as another possible application.
Check out how water droplets bounce off the surface of the glass in this video provided by MIT News, and leave a comment about how glare-free glass might be useful, other than for bird murder.
(image by Hyungryul Choi and Kyoo-Chul Park, courtesy of MIT News)