Glass has been with us for thousands of years. In the past decade, breakthroughs in nanotechnology coating for glass and glazed surfaces are remaking our approach to materials science.
Nowadays, nanotechnology coating for glass is proving to be the next radical innovation in how we tackle the need to reduce the maintenance and labour input costs. Is it any wonder Nanotechnologies are being spoken of as the driving force behind a new industrial revolution?
Nanotechnology Coating For Glass
Nanotechnology is a diverse set of science and engineering-driven technologies for observing, analysing, and reconstructing nature at the nanoscale level. The nanoscale is based on the “nanometer” (nm), which equals one billionth of a meter. Applied to surface coatings, nanotechnologies utilize nano-materials to create novel ultra-thin nano-coatings for a range of industries.
Coatings have always been used to protect materials surfaces. However, until recently, those coatings were prone to breaking down either under the impact of harsh weather conditions and wear and tear or they required regular maintenance and renewal to remain effective.
Today, nano-coating technology for glass is making an impact on material engineering. Its scientific approach has created long-lasting, cost-effective coatings, which are emerging as the optimal top coating solution in a range of applications.
Easy-to-apply nano-based coatings confer surfaces with both protection from environmental conditions and multiple features without changing the essential characteristics of the surface such as colour and texture. These nano-coatings are used on a range of glazed surfaces typically used in a diverse range of industries.
These new coatings offer the prospect of enhanced protection, longer coating life spans, reduced labour costs and extended cleaning cycles. These advances are also yielding improvements in the consumption of raw materials, which is leading to a reduced environmental footprint while increasing the nano-coatings performance.
What Is A Nano-Coated Glass Surface?
The first thing to understand about nano-coated glass surfaces is that they are not simple slabs of glass. These glass surfaces have an ultra-thin surface coating often of titanium dioxide, a compound best known for giving a dazzling gleam to paint, and toothpaste. These coatings are super-thin. In fact, some are only a layer 10 to 25 nanometers deep on a sheet of glass that may itself only be 4 millimetres thick in the case of window glass.
The effect of the nano-coating is to significantly restrict the amount of light passing through the glass.
How Do Nano-Coated Glass Surfaces Work?
The ultra-thin nano-coating cleans through a two-stage process. Firstly, it is photocatalytic or light-activated and secondly, it is hydrophilic or water-loving.
Nano-coatings such as titanium dioxide act as a photocatalyst; it is a novel material that stimulates chemical reactions when the right form of light is shined on it. The most effective wavelength of light to stimulate titanium dioxide is ultraviolet or UV. This wavelength occupies the blue, high-energy end of the light spectrum. This is a part of the light spectrum our eyes can’t detect.
When light in the ultraviolet spectrum hits a titanium dioxide coating on a glass surface, electrons are stimulated. These electrons transform water molecules in the air into hydroxyl radicals that in turn generate chemical oxidation.
In effect, the hydroxyl radicals attack organic, carbon-based dirt and grime particulates and fragment it into smaller particles making it significantly easier for water to wash away those particles.
As the reactions happen on the titanium coating of the glass surface, they attack the lowest layers of the dirt and grime, loosening encrusted particulates from the glass by effectively chipping them away from the glass surface from the inside out.
Hydrophilic Water-Loving Nano-Coatings
Glass as a material is typically hydrophobic or “water-hating”. When water droplets impact a glass surface they tend to bead forming droplets. While water droplets usually run down glazed surfaces they form rivulets.
These rivulets leave behind dirty streaks on the glass. The nano-coating changes that effect. The hydroxyl radicals produced by photocatalysis make the glass hydrophilic or “water-loving.” Instead of staying in droplet form, the water molecules spread out more evenly across the glass surface.
Thus when water hits a dirty nano-coated glass surface, it spreads across it like a large sheet. The sheet of water washes it down neatly and fairly evenly, washing away the accumulated grit and grime rather like a squeegee. Thus the glass dries without leaving behind any streaks or smearing. Perfection!
How Does A Nano-Coated Glass Surface Work?
A nano-coated glass sheet works through a combination of photocatalysis and hydrophilia effects when it becomes wet.
- When ultraviolet (UV) light shines on nano-coating, the electrons, the negatively charged particles within atoms are released
- The electrons interact with water molecules suspended in the air, breaking the H2O particles up into hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are short-lived but highly reactive uncharged forms of hydroxide ions (OH−)
- These released hydroxyl radicals attack the larger organic carbon-based molecules which constitute the majority of grime and dirt particles, fracturing their chemical bonds and transforming them into smaller, harmless components such as carbon dioxide and water. This is the oxidation effect of a nano-coating
- Those hydroxyl radicals also transform the glass into a hydrophilic or water-loving surface. When water hits the surface, the water molecules spread out evenly across it, wipe it clean through a natural action rather than leaving behind smears and streaks.
Advantages of Nano-Coated Glass
Nano-coated glass surfaces look great and the nano-coating is designed to be resilient enough to keep working for the lifetime of the glass. These protective coatings save time, money and scare resources by requiring less frequent cleaning, less intensive labour to carry out the cleaning and less scarce resources, especially water used during routine cleaning cycles.
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Exploiting the unique properties of nanotechnology coating for glass and glazed surfaces is delivering breakthroughs in a host of industrial applications. Today, researchers are applying modified hydrophobic cleaning methods to apply a nano-material coating to glass and glazed surfaces, replacing older, messier and less environmentally friendly chemical vapour-based techniques. Nanotechnology coating for glass is proving to be cost-effective over the lifetime of the glazed surface and is easily adapted to a range of industrial contexts.