German Scientists Create a Smudge Proof Coating, Touch-Based User Interfaces Rejoice
Example of solvent bouncing off of surface coated with the new "superamphiphobic" coating
Fingerprints, smudges and smears could be a thing of the past for eyeglass wearers and gadget owners thanks to German researchers and a little soot.
The smudge repellent in question is a special coating that repels both water and oil-based fluids. Water based repellents are rather common, but oil-based repellents are traditionally more difficult to produce because of oil’s lower surface tension. Producing a surface capable of repelling both requires a specific kind of roughness “akin to the branches of a budding tree." Research at MIT and elsewhere so far has relied on “nanolithographic techniques.”
German Researcher utilize a much simpler solution.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz published a paper in the journal Science detailing their method: baking a combination of candle soot and silica at the right temperature. The process’s description feels more Betty Crocker than it does scientific. First, the researchers held a glass slide over a heart-shaped candle (any candle will do) till spheres of soot—30 to 40 nanometers in diameter—stacked loosely producing the right texture, about a 80% empty to 20% spheres. To prevent the soot from washing away researchers coated the surface with a silica shell 25 nanometers thick, and baked the slide at 600 degrees Celsius to make the soot transparent.
When the researchers sprayed a variety of oils on the slide—peanut and solvents—the droplets bounced up and down on the surface when viewed under a microscope. The coating is referred to as “superamphiphobic” because of its oil and water repelling properties, and can be applied to nearly any surface including aluminum, steel, and copper in addition to glass.
For gadget iDevice, and gadget owners of every ilk this is a huge advancement. The faster this technology is able to make it from research to development to the manufacturing world the faster touch-based gadget users can live smudge free lives. No longer will “oleophobic” screens that barely repel smudges and fingerprints plague the touch-based user experience.
This technology is likely still a ways out in terms of implementation into your next tablet or smartphone, but the prospect of a smudge free future is encouraging.
Source: Technology Review