Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Seeing your phone in the sun, thanks to moths

Your wife just called.
A new kind of transparent film inspired by the eyes of moths could soon be on its way to help cut the glare on your phone's screen without sapping its battery, Mike McRae reports.

Not only could the technology make it four times easier to see your screen out in the sunlight, it is flexible enough to adapt to curved screens, all while keeping its surface free of dust and fingerprints.

Here's the science:
Engineers took their cue from the nanostructures in moths' eyes, which help the insects avoid becoming lunch by trapping light that could otherwise be reflected and give them away to predators. 
As light passes from the air to the moth-eye's curved surface, waves are bent or 'refracted' in such a way that they scatter without producing a visible shine as they bounce back out again. 
You might not need to worry about predators spotting a stray reflection from your phone, but light bouncing from its shiny surface is still pretty annoying. 
Anti-reflection and anti-glare coatings are nothing new, but most have problems in that they either reduce the amount of light getting through, only reflect certain wavelengths, are easily damaged, or are expensive. 
Most smart phones get around the problem by detecting light levels and pumping up their screen's brightness to compensate, a somewhat effective solution that also drains a lot of battery. 
Constructing a tough, transparent material that scatters light-waves coming in from one direction while letting maximum light pass through from another direction would solve many of these problems, if it could be done cheaply.
Have you thanked a moth today?

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