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Touch Screens Repel Fluids, Cut Glare and Still Look Good

BARCELONA, Spain, July 17, 2014 — Touch screens with nanostructured surfaces that ward off glare, reflection and fluids could easily be mass-produced, according to researchers from the Institute of Photonic Sciences.

In one study, the researchers demonstrated a highly transparent glass display screen with static contact angles of more than 170° for water and 160° for oil using a two-tier structure of 100- to 200-nm nanopillars and 10- to 30-nm branches.

Previous studies were able to achieve omniphobicity at the expense of light transparency and through visibility, the researchers said. But their glass averaged 93.8 percent visible light transmission and low scattering values (about 1 percent haze). The surface also reduced reflection to <0.5 percent.

One tier of the nanosurface was created using lithography-free metal dewetting, followed by reactive ion etching. The second tier was deposited via NanoSpray combustion chemical vapor deposition.

According to the researchers, this kind of glass could be used in self-cleaning solar panels, windows that resist ice, low-drag surfaces and anti-smudge touch screens.

In another study, the researchers roughened a glass surface at the microscale to reduce glare and etched nanoscale teeth into the surface to make it antireflective. The microstructure protects the nanostructure during wiping and smudging, and the surface is also hydrophobic, the researchers said.

The work was published in Nano Letters (doi: 10.1021/nl501767j) and ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces (doi: 10.1021/am5013062). 

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