Scientists at ETH Zurich have developed a special coating that prevents the lenses of eyeglasses from fogging up. Apparently not all heroes wear capes.
It’s been a problem since the advent of optical lenses, but it’s fair to say it peaked during the pandemic when everyone who wears glasses found out the hard way that most face masks ventilate your breath. towards your eyes. You’d think someone would have fixed this already, but it’s harder than you think.
The difficulty of the problem is evident by the lack of current solutions. You can wipe down your glasses when they fog up or… well, that’s about it. There are anti-fog sprays and special lens coatings that help, but these only minimize the problem.
You don’t have to be a physicist understand that the best solution would be heat. Glasses fog up when hot steam comes in contact with their cooler lenses. This temperature fluctuation turns steam into humidity and your glasses fog up because they are wet.
Unfortunately, heating glasses is not a simple task. Using traditional methods, you need to find a transparent material that can be heated from the outside, develop a power source for the material, and ensure that there is no risk of the lenses overheating or the frames heating up. . This is a tall order, especially considering that any additional bulk or weight will increase wearer discomfort.
The ETH Zurich team circumvented these engineering problems by take a different approach. They developed a special gold coating that uses solar energy to generate heat. It does not require a battery, wires, or any other component apart from the coating itself.
It works by placing tiny clusters of gold between ultra-thin layers of titanium oxide. Gold is a fantastic conductor of heat and the layers of titanium oxide amplify the retention of the metal just enough to make it perfectly suited for heating glass and similar surfaces.
The whole thing is only 10 nanometers thick (the processing size of some microchips) and can be used with other coatings – so it should work with transition lenses and for use in car windshields, for example. In fact, scientists are determined to test the coating on other surfaces such as windows and mirrors.
It will also be interesting to see how this coating could be applied to other optics such as sensors and lasers. The applications for this coating could be endless, especially since scientists insist that it is not as expensive as one might think due to the incredibly low amount of gold needed to create the coating. .
It is unclear exactly how much heat could be generated using this technique, but researchers claim it can heat the surface up to 8 degrees Celsius. That’s certainly enough to keep the vapor from fogging up your lenses under common circumstances. But this is not quite enough to produce electricity in usable quantities.
It probably won’t solve the global energy crisis, but it certainly has the potential to make life easier for the billions of us who wear glasses.