Samsung Electronics has exclusively licensed transparent superhydrophobic film technology from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge ORNL Senior Researcher Tolga Aytug uses thermal processing and etching capabilities to produce the superhydrophobic coating. Image credit: ORNL.ORNL Senior Researcher Tolga Aytug uses thermal processing and etching capabilities to produce the superhydrophobic coating. Image credit: ORNL.National Laboratory (ORNL) to improve the performance of glass displays on its smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices.

To be superhydrophobic, a surface must achieve a water droplet contact angle exceeding 150 degrees. ORNL’s coating has a contact angle of between 155 and 165 degrees, so water literally bounces off, taking away dust particles.ORNL’s development of an optically clear coating that repels water to carry away dust and dirt, reduces light reflection and resists fingerprints and smudges resulted from three years of superhydrophobic research on glass-based coatings. A video about the technology can be viewed here.

The ORNL research team developed the superhydrophobic technology by depositing a thin glass film on a glass surface and heating the coated glass to transform the surface into two material compositions. A selective etching process produces a porous three-dimensional network of high-silica content glass that resembles microscopic coral and enables water-repellent and antireflective properties.

Beyond electronics, the technology is believed to hold significant potential for applications in solar panels, lenses, detectors and windows. ORNL says the technology is still available for licensing for solar panel and architectural window applications.

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