Chemical engineers at Oregon State University have invented a new technique to deposit nanostructured films on various surfaces, a process that may first be used to produce coatings for eyeglasses.
The films reduce the reflectance of light from a surface and, in the case of eyeglasses, would also reduce glare and exposure to ultraviolet light.
Some coatings with these features are already available, but the new technology should perform better at a lower cost, and be able to be applied on-site in a dispenser’s office.
A patent has been applied for on the new technology, and the first commercial products may be ready within a year, according to Chih-hung Chang, an associate professor in Oregon State University’s Department of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering.
The key to the process is the use of a chemical bath, controlled by a microreactor, to place thin films on various substrates such as glass, plastic, silicon or aluminium. The process creates a type of nanostructure that resembles millions of tiny pyramids, which function to reduce the reflectance of any light that strikes the material.
The scientists are now working on applying the thin film to polycarbonate, the type of plastic most commonly used in eyeglass production, and also plan to create a small unit that can apply the films inexpensively in an office setting.
The final product should be faster to apply and less costly than existing technologies, the researchers claim.