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MIT creates anti-fogging, glare-free, self-cleaning glass

Researchers at MIT have created a type of glass that doesn't fog, has no glare — and cleans itself.

It's Mega Maid's dream come true: researchers at MIT have created a type of glass that doesn't fog, has no glare — and cleans itself.

A microscopic image of the cones on the glass' surface. (Credit: Kyoo-Chul Park and Hyungryul Choi)

The glass, based on nanotextures, is covered with microscopic conical shapes five times higher than their base width of 200 nanometres. This seemingly simple change performs all three functions: the cones stop light reflecting of the surface of the glass, keep condensation from forming and allow water droplets to bounce across the surface, drawing the dust away as they go.

It's produced by coating the glass with several very fine layers, including a photo-resistant layer. These are lit up with a grid pattern, and then finely etched to produce the cones, the creators explained in a paper published in ACS Nano.

A piece of glass treated with the coating (left) compared to normal glass (right), when fogged. (Credit: Kyoo-Chul Park and Hyungryul Choi)

Such a substance will have endless uses. Most interestingly, perhaps, is its potential application in the creation of photovoltaic, or solar, panels. Kyoo-Chul Park, co-author and mechanical engineering graduate student, explained that solar panels become coated with dust and dirt — losing up to 40 per cent of their efficiency in just six months.

He adds that the anti-glare properties of the glass would also improve efficiency, as more light goes through the surface, rather than being reflected away.

Other potential applications include lenses — from microscopes to spectacles to cameras — as well as car windshields, windows and smartphone screens that are glare free and more effective at repelling oils.

It's still being tested to see how it wears over time, but we'll be watching this one closely. Meanwhile, you can check out how the glass repels water in the video below.