Nearly all of our interactions with a smartphone are filtered through the glass covering its display, which makes it no wonder we’ve been so interested in keeping track of the latest developments in glass technology. Sometimes, that means products like Corning and its Gorilla Glass process, creating glass that’s noticeably more scratch and shatter resistant than when untreated. Other times, we’re looking at innovations that attempt to reduce glare, making it easier to use our phones in bright environments. Today, we’ve got a bit of a full house, with MIT announcing a new type of glass which offers improvements in multiple areas.
The glass developed by MIT researchers is low glare, hydrophobic to resist water, and is self-cleaning. The trick to combining all these is a microscopic structure on the surface of the glass, etched out of a special coating layer until it resembles densely-packed tiny spikes. At a nano scale, even simple structures start exhibiting unusual properties, as we see with this MIT design. A video the team prepared, embedded below, shows a droplet of water bouncing off the glass surface as if it was a basketball on tarmac. This resistance to water is what lets the glass clean itself; as incidental moisture runs off its surface, it picks up tiny particles of dust and dirt and drags them off the phone. The combination of a very clean screen with anti-glare properties is supposed to make for exceptionally transparent glass, making displays seem brighter than otherwise possible.
This glass is far from being a commercial product ready for mass production, but as its creators work on making it even better and more affordable to produce, it very well could start attracting the interest of smartphone manufacturers.