Self Cleaning Transparent Material Structure and its Fabrication Methods

Case ID:

A Wayne State University Professor has developed a material with unique self-cleaning properties that may serve a number of applications from self-cleaning automobile windshields, eyeglasses and optics to laboratory glassware, mirrors and sensors. Highly water-repellant materials (also known as Super Hydrophobic Surfaces) have been created and employed in a number of applications. However their widespread use to date has been hampered by the fact that such materials are generally non-transparent. As such these materials have not been suitable for windows windshields, camera lenses and other optical devices.

The material developed at the Wayne State University College of Engineering has the unique property of being completely transparent and as such could be used in applications which to date have not been served by opaque super hydrophobic materials. The invention is a new material structure capable of repelling water and self-cleaning as well as its fabrication methods. Liquid repellency of solid surfaces is critical for many applications including the prevention of the adhesion of moisture and ice to windows, self-cleaning traffic indicators, stopping clotting in artificial blood vessels and stain-resistant textiles.


The hydrophobicity of a surface can be enhanced by a chemical modification that lowers the surface energy. A super hydrophobic surface results from the increase of the surface roughness. This effect can be observed in nature on the leaves of the sacred lotus. The surfaces of these leaves have micrometer-scale roughness (10-100 µm) resulting in water contact angles up to 170° because air that is trapped between the droplets and the wax crystals at the plant surface minimizes the contact area. Super hydrophobic surfaces that have water contact angles larger than 150° have been obtained by controlling the surface topography of expensive hydrophobic materials using various processing methods such as machining and etching. Since all these surfaces have micrometer-scale roughness they are not optically transparent due to diffraction scattering.

Commercial Applications

• Devices with transparent surfaces in need of moisture prevention: windows, windshields, camera lenses, other optical devices
• Liquid repellency on solid surfaces such as traffic indicators, artificial blood vessels and stain-resistant textiles

Competitive Advantages

• Repelling of water and self-cleaning of transparent surfaces

Patent Status

Patent Published

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Nic Wetzler
Wayne State University
Yang Zhao