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Pilkington Activ Glass - The Invisible Squeegee Of Window-Willie

Pilkington Activ glass has a coating of microcrystalline titanium oxide that acts as an "invisible squeegee" to allow the surface to clean itself.

The nano-scale (15 nanometers) coating has two remarkable properties that create the effect:

  • It absorbs sunlight (ultraviolet radiation) - creating a photocatalytic effect on dirt accumulated on the window, breaking it down.
  • It makes the surface of the glass hydrophyllic - rather than beading up (and drying in blotches), water forms a sheet that allows organic dirt particles to flow off and then dries much more cleanly.


(From BBC article)

Pilkington Activ glass reduces the amount of sunlight passing through by only about 5%; the coating is very tough and would require real abrasion like a determined scrubbing with steel wool to take it off. It can greatly reduce the cost of cleaning large commercial buildings (or the windows in your house!). It also eliminates harsh cleaner residue from the environment.

SF fans may recall Window Willie, the window-washing invention from Robert Heinleins 1956 novel The Door Into Summer; the novel describes it as an "electrostatic device" that makes dirt disappear from any polished silica surface. I wonder if the coating would work on other kinds of surfaces?

Read the story at Eco glass cleans itself with Sun. Visit the Pilkington Activ glass website for more information. Thanks to an alert anonymous reader for this story!

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/9/2004)

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