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Swiss Researchers Strike Gold with Potential Solution to Foggy Glasses

Has the bane of every individual ever to wear eyeglasses been solved by an ultra-thin transparent layer of gold?




We can just hear Bania now: “That’s gold, Jerry. Gold!”

The timelessness of Seinfeld aside, nothing is more timeless for a person who wears eyeglasses than having to deal with foggy lenses.

Go ahead. Ask any of them. They’ll no doubt have stories of foggy glasses coming in from the cold in the winter or foggy glasses going out to the warm of the summer or, especially the past few years, foggy glasses while trying to wear a mask.

There are sprays and coatings and wipes on the market to help alleviate the conundrum that is foggy glasses. However, Swiss researchers suggest they may have come up with a permanent solution: invisible gold.

A team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) recently applied for a patent for an ultra-thin, transparent gold nanocoating. The coating would use sunlight to heat the lenses. It works both as a defogging agent and an anti-fogging agent.

Swiss Researchers Strike Gold with Potential Solution to Foggy Glasses

The lens on the right features a new antifogging nanocoating developed by Swiss researches. The other lens was left uncoated. 
(Source: ETH Zurich)


The new technology wouldn’t be limited to eyeglasses, either. Car windshields, for instance, would be another practical application.

According to a press release from ETH Zurich:

“What’s special about the new coating is that it absorbs solar radiation selectively. Half of the energy contained in sunlight resides in the infrared spectrum, the other half in the visible light and UV radiation spectrum.”

“Our coating absorbs a large proportion of the infrared radiation, which causes it to heat up – by up to 8 degrees Celsius,” said ETH doctoral student Iwan Hächler, in the press release.

The coating is comprised of three parts: An ultra-thin gold layer sandwiched between two ultra-thin layers of titanium oxide. The outside titanium oxide layers protect the gold layer from damage and the eyeglass wearer from excessive heat. Titanium oxide is an electrically insulating material.

The entire coating is just 10 nanometers thick. That’s about 1,600 times thinner than a sheet of aluminum foil.


The research team says the coating is made using standard manufacturing methods. (Hence, it won’t require expensive machinery to reproduce.) And though the amount of gold required is minimal, researchers have begun investigating if other metals prove as useful.



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