An ultra-thin layer of gold can prevent the glass from fogging

It can be a bit frustrating when your glasses are foggy – just ask anyone who has worn a mask during the last two years of the pandemic. However, nanotechnology could soon keep your vision clear. ETH Zurich researchers have develop a nano-gold coating heats the glass up to 46 degrees Fahrenheit by absorbing large amounts of infrared radiation, keeping your glasses fog-free in a variety of humid conditions. And unlike conventional methods, which merely disperse water around using hydrophilic molecules, this method prevents condensation from even starting.

The 10nm thick coating sandwiched gold between layers of titanium oxide not only amplifies the heating effect through refraction, but also protects the gold from wear. This design also won’t lead to overheating in warm weather as it prevents radiation from traveling to the other side. ETH is keen to point out that it created the coating using techniques common in manufacturing, such as cleanroom vacuum-based vapor deposition. In other words, companies may not have to improve their production lines.

Before you ask: it’s not as expensive as you think. Although gold is an expensive material, the amount needed is so small (about 12 times thinner than a regular gold foil) that it doesn’t add much to the price of your glasses. However, the team plans to study the use of other metals.

You may still have to wait a while before finding gilded glass at your local store. Although the discoverers filed for a patent, no companies lined up to apply the invention. Fortunately, it may not be limited to eyeglasses. The team finds this layer useful in reducing fog on car windshields, and future implementations could be useful for mirrors, windows, and many other transparent surfaces that need to stay warm.

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