Inspired by nature, where textured surfaces ranging from lotus leaves to desert-beetle carapaces and moth eyes have developed in ways that often fulfill multiple purposes at once, a group of researchers from MIT developed a glass that is self-cleaning, virtually eliminates reflections, and resists fogging and glare. These features could lower the maintenance expenses for solar farms, and the researchers hope that it will be more widely used along with its lowered cost in future.
Instead treating solar panels with hydrophobic coatings, the new glass surface conceived by the MIT researchers does prevent reflective losses, giving the new system advantage over other water repelling and self-cleaning surfaces. The new glass owes its multifunctionalily to its surface nanotextures that produce an array of conical features. The surface pattern consists of an array of nanoscale cones that are five times as tall as their base width of 200 nm.