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Biomimicry Moth eyeballs are made up of tiny cones that reduce glare. UC Irvine researchers copied the pattern on a new, flexible material and coated it with a bit of gold to make a product that could improve solar panels, LED displays and disguising of weapons.
Image Credit: George Hodan

Published on April 8th, 2014 | by James Ayre

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Moth Eyeballs Inspire Glare-Dimming Gold-Coating For Solar Panels

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April 8th, 2014 by
 
The glare from commonly used objects such as solar panels or electronics displays can be greatly reduced with the use of a newly developed transparent film black inspired by moth eyeballs.

The new film — created by researchers at UC Irvine — can also aid in the main tangency of a clean surface, as it can also keep grime in raindrops and other moisture from sticking.

Moth eyeballs are made up of tiny cones that reduce glare. UC Irvine researchers copied the pattern on a new, flexible material and coated it with a bit of gold to make a product that could improve solar panels, LED displays and disguising of weapons. Image Credit: George Hodan

Moth eyeballs are made up of tiny cones that reduce glare. UC Irvine researchers copied the pattern on a new, flexible material and coated it with a bit of gold to make a product that could improve solar panels, LED displays and disguising of weapons. Image Credit: George Hodan

“We found that a very simple process and a tiny bit of gold can turn a transparent film black,” stated UC Irvine chemistry professor Robert Corn, the lead researcher of the group that created a patterned polymer material based on the findings.

Humorously, the new material/film was discovered practically on accident — the researchers were even worried, initially, when they noticed what appeared to be soot on a flexible film they were designing to coat various products.

The University of California – Irvine provides more:

Via painstaking tests, though, the researchers realized that they’d accidentally discovered a way to fabricate a surface capable of eliminating glare.

To do it, the group etched a repeating pattern of cones modeled on moth eyeballs at the nanoscale on Teflon and other nonstick surfaces. They then applied a thin layer of gold over the cones and, voila, the shine from the gold and any light reflecting onto it was all but obliterated. The material is also highly hydrophobic, meaning it repels liquids.

Angry residents of Newport Beach, California; certain cities in England and Australia; and elsewhere have complained vociferously about neighbors installing highly reflective solar panels that unintentionally beam blinding sunlight onto their properties. In addition, troops risk enemy detection when sunshine bounces off weaponry. And cellphone displays can be unreadable in bright light. The new coating could solve these issues.

UC Irvine’s Office of Technology Alliances has filed a patent application for the work. “We’re excited about where this technology might lead and who could be interested in exploring the commercial opportunities that this new advancement presents,” stated senior licensing officer Doug Crawford.

The findings are detailed in two new papers, one published in Nano Letters, and one in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • Bob_Wallace

    Isn’t there any transmission data? That’s the important, and very simple, piece of data needed.

    If this film is “stopping” glare then it’s either absorbing it or passing it on through the film. If it is transmitting then that should be a very significant improvement solar panels performance.

  • dnarex

    How does this work with solar panels? If the film is black, doesn’t it
    block the light which the panel needs to produce electricity?

  • Ronald Brakels

    Cant say I’ve ever noticed any blinding glare of any solar panel and we’ve got quite a few of them around here. Maybe there are special ones that beam blinding sunlight that we just don’t have.

  • JamesWimberley

    This post needs a comprehensible image.

  • sault

    Sounds interesting. Hope this coating can be made durable enough to stand up to 25+ years on top of the solar panel glass coating.

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