No matter whether you have an iPhone, BlackBerry, Android or Windows Phone, smartphone owners will all have experienced one of these two annoying traits: huge amounts of glare from the screen when using your phone outdoors and secondly, smudges, fingerprints and dirt.
Having a phone with a screen that’s reflection-proof and smudge-proof may seem like a hopeful wish for many tech fans, but it seems that such technology could be just around the corner.
Researchers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have developed a new type of glass that is ‘virtually reflection-free’, anti-fogging and most incredibly: self-cleaning. The glass is said to be almost invisible to the naked eye due to its incredible non-reflective properties, and is also liquid repellent, causing water droplets to “bounce right off, like tiny rubber balls”.
These amazing qualities come thanks to a new nanotexture that takes precedence on the top layer of the glass. When put under the microscope, the surface of the glass is covered in tiny cones, yet when touched it appears to be completely flat and smooth.
Right now it’s a breakthrough, but the researchers behind the new glass hope it can be mass-manufactured relatively cheaply and used in everyday gadgets such as TVs, smartphones and tablets, as well as buildings and car windshields.
This new glass technology is so effective at repelling water that it actually manages to clean itself in the process. Studies show that 6 months down the line, a new smartphone’s screen can be up to 40% less effective due to a build-up of dirt, dust and greasy fingerprints. We can continually clean our screens against microfibre cloths and our clothes, but we’ll never really get rid of everything. With self-cleaning glass we could be enjoying the same quality of picture as the first day of use, throughout a gadget’s lifespan.
The current standard for glass used in smartphones is Corning’s excellent Gorilla Glass 2, which is designed to be ultra-tough, protecting against scratches and cracks. If the exciting new properties of MIT’s self-cleaning glass could be combined with the tough qualities of Gorilla Glass, we could have the perfect solution for gadgets both big and small.