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Superhydrophobic Transparent Glass Thin Films

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryGlass used in building materials (curtain walls), windshields, goggles, glasses,
optical lenses, and similar applications must be durable and transparent. To meet
this challenge, ORNL researchers have invented a method to produce durable,
superhydrophobic, antireflective glass thin films for coating such surfaces.
Other processes exist for producing materials with the desired qualities,
including superhydrophobic and antimicrobial surfaces; however, in most cases
the resulting materials exhibit poor hydrophobicity or the properties are not
durable and the surfaces require frequent maintenance and/or replacement.
And some of the processes use toxic chemicals or produce toxic wastes, leading
to disposal problems.

DescriptionThe basic approach used by ORNL begins with phase separating glass that is
capable of spinodally decomposing when properly processed. The process is
not limited to a particular phase separating glass or substrate, and a variety
of deposition processes, including sputtering and chemical vapor deposition,
may be used. No bonding agents are required. Once the coating has been
applied and phase separated into a spinodal pattern (typically by heat treating),
differential etching is used to remove one phase of the spinodal structure and
partially remove the other. The resulting etched surface structure has a very
porous and extremely small “funnel cake” or coral appearance when viewed
with a scanning electron microscope. The final step is to apply a hydrophobic
self-assembled monolayer to the etched surface. The various steps of the process
can be modified to produce coatings tailored to specific applications. The result
is a family of all-in-one coatings that exhibit the following characteristics.
• Superhydrophobicity (droplet contact angle > 170°)
• Optical transparency (> 95%) over a broad range
• Opacity to UV radiation
• Antireflectance (< 1%)
• High density and uniformity
• Durability (including scratch and crack resistance)
  • Not particle or nanoparticle based
  • No bonding agents required
  • Inexpensive, naturally abundant base materials
  • Simple, scalable fabrication process
  • No toxic substances used or produced
  • Inherently self-cleaning
  • Transparent
  • Antireflective
  • Improved product lifetime
  • Substantial cost and energy savings
Applications and Industries
  • Any optical component exposed to wet conditions and subject to abrasion
  • Optical lenses and lens filters
  • Optical windows
  • Windshields
  • Goggles, eye glasses
More InformationPatents:
Tolga Aytug, David K. Christen, and John T. Simpson. Superhydrophobic Transparent Glass (STG) Thin Film Articles. U.S. Patent Application 12/915,183, filed October 29, 2010.

Inventor Point of Contact
John T. Simpson
Measurement Science and Systems
Engineering Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Related Technologies
UT-B ID 200702003
UT-B ID 201202815
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Application 20120088066
An article having a nanostructured surface and a method of making the same are described. The article can include a substrate and a nanostructured layer bonded to the substrate. The nanostructured layer can include a plurality of spaced apart nanostructured features comprising a contiguous, protrusive material and the nanostructured features can be sufficiently small that the nanostructured layer is optically transparent. A surface of the nanostructured features can be coated with a continuous hydrophobic coating. The method can include providing a substrate; depositing a film on the substrate; decomposing the film to form a decomposed film; and etching the decomposed film to form the nanostructured layer.
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

Contact ORNL About This Technology

To: Alexander G. DeTrana<>