Anne L. Fischer, contributing editor, email@example.com
Nobody really likes washing windows. And dirt and grime – the kind you find on windows – are the bane of a solar panel’s existence. The good news is that a group of researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel, which set out originally to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, may have found a self-cleaning coating that will make window washing a thing of the past.
Led by Ehud Gazit, a professor in the department of molecular micro-biology and biotechnology, the team discovered a way of controlling atoms and molecules of peptides to make them grow into what look like tiny blades of grass or “nanotubules.” The blades are about 100 nm in size – much smaller than a particle of dust. When the nanotubules group together, they form tiny, water-repellent forests. Because the nanotubules were created in a vacuum under high temperatures, the researchers knowthat they can withstand extreme heat.
They see the water-repellent material as a potential coating for skyscraper windows and solar panels. Any dirt or dust that accumulated on the surface would be washed off by rain-water. According to doctoral candidate Lihi Adler-Abramovich, this research also has implications for electric cars. The nanotech material exhibits the property of a high-energy density capacitor, which can give a boost to electric batteries.