Biomimetic Omnidirectional Antireflective Glass improves the quality of electronics displays
Α novel biomimetic method for the realization of omnidirectional transparent antireflective glass was developed by researchers at the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL) of the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH). This innovative procedure decreases the light reflection or glare of transparent surfaces or screens, which is of high importance for practically any optical system and consumer electronics device, by utilizing laser irradiation.
The biomimetic technology exploits nature’s wisdom by reproducing the extraordinary characteristics of living organisms, using laser light on glass and other transparent materials. The technology can have a wide range of applications in consumer electronics displays, solar panels and specialized optical components. The laser‐induced nanostructures are selectively textured on the glass surface in order to mimic the spatially random, pillar‐like morphology of natural surfaces, like the wings of the glasswing butterfly, Greta oto, and various Cicada species, as well as their remarkable antireflection properties. The artificial structures exhibit impressive antireflective properties, both in the visible and infrared frequency ranges, which are remarkably stable over time.
Mimicking concepts and underlying principles found in nature offers a broad range of challenging opportunities. There are numerous species in nature that exhibit extraordinary surface functionalities including plant leafs, insects, reptiles, even elasmobranch fishes and marine life. These remarkable properties help those species to survive, feed and thrive through extreme environmental conditions; their development has followed millions of years of evolution and the necessity of the species to evolve via natural selection. In most cases, the unconventional surface properties and attributes stem from their unique hierarchical morphological features, ranging from a few tens of nanometers to hundreds of micrometers in size.
In this context, several methodologies have been developed for producing bioinspired surfaces. Laser fabrication is a maskless process allowing material modifications with high precision over the size and shape of the fabricated features. The structuring of materials using ultrashort (less than 1 ps) laser pulses, in particular, proved to be a precise and highly versatile tool to realize artificial surfaces that quantitatively mimic the morphological features and functionalities of their natural archetypes. This is the outcome of the optimal combination of the ultrafast laser field and the material properties, which enables the fabrication of features with sizes in the nanoscale.
The biomimetic method offers a simple, low-cost and environmentally friendly alternative to the current ways of producing anti-reflective glass, which are expensive, involve a complex multi-step process and require the use of chemicals, thus being very harmful to the environment. Nowadays, the need of sustainable and cost efficient anti-reflective glass treatments is one of the most challenging industry bets.
The biomimetic technology was developed at the Ultrafast Laser Micro and Nano Processing Laboratory of the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser of FORTH (https://www.iesl.forth.gr/en/research/ULNMP-Group), and led to the establishment of a new spin-off company under the name “Biomimetic”. The company was founded by the Research Director Dr. Emmanuel Stratakis, together with FORTH-IESL research personnel Dr. Evangelos Skoulas, Mr. Andreas Lemonis, Mr. Antonis Papadopoulos and Mr. Alexandros Mimidis as co-founders. The company raised 900.000€ seed funding by Big Pi Ventures (https://bigpi.vc/), one of the funds of EquiFund supported by the European Investment Fund (EIF). It is the second spin-off company of FORTH-IESL that is financed by Big Pi within the last six months. The headquarters of the company are located in the Science and Technology Park of Crete, located at the Heraklion Campus of FORTH, in a specially designed space where the equipment for the production of anti-reflective glass has already been installed.