A surface that hardly reflects any light? That’s what researchers in Singapore have designed.
Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research and its commercial partners have developed a plastic that reflects just 0.09% to 0.2% of visible light hitting its surface. Currently, anti-reflective and anti-glare plastics on the market have a reported reflectivity of about 1% of visible light.
The innovation has applications for anything from TV displays to windows and even solar cells, reports Channel News Asia. The unique nanotechnology method, developed by the agency’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), maintains the low reflectivity at angles up to 45 degrees. That characteristic means that TV viewers can see the screen from a wider viewing angle and have less glare. Also, organic solar cells can have larger areas for light absorption.
The new plastic takes advantage of a nanotechnology method that creates a complex pattern of minute structures that mimic the patterns found on a moth’s eye, which has a unique method of diffusing light. Nanoimprinting relies on engineering the physical aspects of the plastics rather than using harmful chemicals to change the properties of the plastic. The nanometer-sized structures are placed on top of other microstructures, a process that is different from how other similar plastics are made. This process creates special patterns that are better at reducing glare and reflection.
“This is an exciting innovation — mimicking nature through the nanoimprint technology to solve real world problems,” says Prof. Andy Hor, IMRE’s executive director. “The development of the new plastic is a testament to the strength of Singapore’s advanced R&D capabilities, the benefits of nanoimprint technology and the confidence that companies place on our technologies.”
Companies in Asia say the development will help it sell more products. “The outstanding results from this consortium work will benefit our company’s expansion into new markets such as in the touchscreen panel and solar business sectors,” says Wilson Kim Woo Yong, director of global marketing at Young Chang Chemical Co., Ltd.
Source: “Made-in-S’pore Anti-Reflective Plastic to Be Commercialized,” Channel News Asia, 5/23/12
Source: “Singapore-made Anti-reflective Plastics to be Commercialised,” ACN Newsire via COMTEX/MarketWatch), 5/23/12
Image by Olaf Leillinger, used under its Creative Commons license.
Dale McGeehon has been a journalist and editor for more than 25 years, covering chemical regulation and testing for Pesticides and Toxic Chemical News and innovations in material sciences for the National Technology Transfer Center. His writing credits include Omni and College Park magazines and The New York Times.