Moth Eyes Inspire Antireflective Smartphone Screens

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Moth Eyes inspire Antireflective Smartphone Screens
Via Pexels

You must have heard from the wise,
That beauty rests in the beholder’s sight,
and apparently to everyone’s surprise,
the key to beautiful glare-free screens literally lies
on the surface of moths’ eyes.

Researchers at the College of Optics and Photonics, University of Central Florida (CREOL) recently unraveled a beautiful secret hiding in a thin coating found on the surface of Moth-eyes. This coating is made up of special nanoscale structures that render the Moth’s eyes with anti-reflective properties and apparently, the same coating can be used to make our gadget screens perfectly viewable even in broad daylight.

Credit: College of Optics and Photonics, University of Central Florida

Left Side of the Image: Nanostructures from above.

Right Side of the Image: Nanostructures from the side.

Shin-Tson Wu, the lead researcher quotes “Using our flexible anti-reflection film on smartphones and tablets will make the screen bright and sharp, even when viewed outside.”

How This Works

Moths have evolved with a thin aforementioned coating on their eye-surface that enables night vision as well as prohibits any light to bounce off their eyes, safeguarding them from being spotted in the dark by predators.

As per the theory, whenever light falls on a surface of transparent nature (say, glass), a certain part of the light repels from the surface and the remaining part passes through directly. If we cover this surface with a thin layer of another transparent material having a different refractive index, the amount of light that both these surfaces would now repel together would be much lesser than the amount repelled off by a single surface (only the glass or only the covering) at a time.

This was first observed by Lord Rayleigh back in 1886. Moth eyes work pretty much in conjugation with this theory. Their highly anti-reflective nature is facilitated by the brilliant geometry of the coating covering their eyes. It has a few hundred nanometre-wide hexagonal structures that reduce the amount of reflected light by an amazing margin. As per the estimates, only 0.23% of the incident light is reflected off this coating, making it a near-perfect anti-reflector.

A wonderful example of nature’s articulate engineering at work. After all, it seems like evolution did learn optics lessons rather well.

What’s More?

Being the ultimate solution to itchy screens in the Sun, the coating has great physical characteristics too. As mentioned by Shin-Tson 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 claims are definitely promising but practicable samples are yet to be tested for the supposed mechanical strength of this coating. The visibility tests, however, have yielded as much as 4 times better contrast ratio when used in direct sunlight which is really impressive.

The prime achievement of this research though was the successful synthesis of the structural pattern found in the moth-eye coating, inside the lab environment which was a big challenge in itself. Similar technology has been used to decrease reflection ratio in solar panels as well, which became the inspiration for use on gadget screens.

In the nutshell, the actual product which comes out next year would offer low-cost environment-friendly screens, those will be optimal for use in any kind of ambient lighting without the need of a sensor for screen brightness adjustment, hence saving battery life while also enhancing physical durability. Seriously, who is not excited to buy this?