Transparent Film Keeps Windows Ice-Free

Sept. 17, 2014

A new technology developed at Rice University effectively deices glass surfaces while remaining transparent for radio frequency transmission.

With the winter months quickly approaching, ice will be here to stay; but a team of researchers at Rice University has developed a technology that could ensure ice doesn't stay on your windows. The film, made from graphene nanoribbons covered with a thin layer of polyurethane, can be painted on any glass or plastic surface and conducts both heat and electricity. When voltage is applied, the film acts as a deicer while remaining transparent. It can even melt ice within minutes in a -4 degree F environment. 

The research, published in Applied Materials and Interfaces, also points out another key feature of the newly-developed deicing film: radio frequency compatibility. While the film is transparent to the human eye, it's also small enough (50 to 200 nanometers thick) to allow radio frequencies to pass unimpeded. From windshields to commercial building windows, the technology could be useful to help mitigate the harmful effects of ice without compromising access to cell phone and Wi-Fi signals.

“Glass skyscrapers could be kept free of fog and ice, but also be transparent to radio frequencies. It’s really frustrating these days to find yourself in a building where your cell phone doesn’t work. This could help alleviate that problem,” says James Tour, lead chemist on the project. 

Looking for more ways to protect your building from winter weather? Take a look at some tips to help Protect Your Roof from Storm Damage

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