Moth eyes inspire new screen coating, making reading in sunlight a lot easier

Screens on even the newest phones and tablets can be hard to read outside in bright sunlight. Inspired by the nanostructures found on moth eyes, researchers have developed a new antireflection film that could keep people from having to run to the shade to look at their mobile devices.

The antireflection film exhibits a surface reflection of just .23 percent, much lower than the iPhone's surface reflection of 4.4 percent, for example. Reflection is the major reason it's difficult to read a phone screen in bright sunlight, as the strong light reflecting off the screen's surface washes out the display.

Researchers led by Shin-Tson Wu of the College of Optics and Photonics, University of Central Florida (CREOL), report on their new antireflection coating in Optica, The Optical Society's journal for high impact research.

"Using our flexible anti-reflection film on smartphones and tablets will make the screen bright and sharp, even when viewed outside," said Wu. "In addition to exhibiting low reflection, our nature-inspired film is also scratch resistant and self-cleaning, which would protect touch screens from dust and fingerprints."

The new film contains tiny uniform dimples, each about 100 nanometers in diameter (about one one-thousandth of the width of a human hair). The coating can also be used with flexible display applications such as phones with screens that fold like a book, which are expected to hit the market as soon as next year.

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