Scientists Develop Self-Cleaning Windows

The problem is that any substance that can be sprayed on, or any film that can be applied, will wear off pretty quickly. So his goal is to develop the standards that will allow manufacturers to pick specific sizes of bumps to achieve different purposes. In the world of nano-technology, that's a big- ticket item.

A Window to the Future

Bhushan says one major manufacturer told him that half the company's budget goes into coating tiny components of micro-machines in an effort to reduce friction. If the materials used to manufacture the components could be "hydrophobic," they would produce less friction even without further treatment. The savings could be great, he says, so a number of companies have expressed interest in his findings.

And for the rest of us, another burden may some day be lifted.

The windshield of the future could come with surface bumps that are rough enough to keep water from sticking to it, but so small they can't be seen.

And you won't have to wash it.

Lee Dye's column appears weekly on A former science writer for the Los Angeles Times, he now lives in Juneau, Alaska.

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