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Moth eye-inspired surface coating aims to eliminate light glare

Telecommunications

Researchers at the University of Central Florida believe their new anti-glare film could help readers view smartphones or tablets in direct sunlight.

Researchers at the College of Optics and Photonics, University of Central Florida (CREOL), report in the Optica journal of an anti-reflective film for smartphones and tablets that is inspired by the nanostructures found on moth eyes. The eyes of moths are covered with a pattern of antireflective nanostructures that allow moths to see in the dark and prevent eye reflections that might be seen by potential predators. Reflection is a key reason it can be difficult to read a screen in bright sunlight, because the strong light reflecting off the screen’s surface washes out the display. The Optica journal exhibits a surface reflection of just 0.23 percent, significantly lower than the iPhone’s surface reflection of 4.4 percent, for example.

The thin film contains tiny uniform dimples that are approximately 100 nanometers in diameter, equivalent to one one-thousandth of the width of a human hair. The coating can also be used with flexible display applications, such as phones with screens that fold like a book expected to launch later this year. The researchers are now working to further improve the anti-reflection film’s mechanical properties, including finding the best balance of surface hardness and flexibility to make the film surface rugged enough for long-term use on touch screens.

Turning to nature for inspiration is a common method for technology companies, with recent innovations included a water repellent material that sheds like a snake when wet and Iceland’s experimental use of volcanoes as a sustainable energy source. Which of nature’s magical ways could be utilised into modern day technology?

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