Is it possible that attracting water, not repelling it, could actually make glass clearer? Scientists from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering certainly think so. Credit: A*STAR IMRE, Singapore

While one company is working hard to keep moisture away from glass, another is working equally hard to attract it.

Scientists at Singapore’s A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) have developed a “durable and permanent” ceramic coating that is not only transparent but superhydrophillic.

Unlike coatings that repel water, IMRE’s CleanClear coating attracts and creates a layer of water that won’t fog up the glass or plastic to which it’s applied. According to a news release, it also keeps the surfaces cleaner for a longer period of time.


Credit: A*STAR IMRE, Singapore

The water-forming coating could prove particularly useful in wet or humid environments where glass or plastic forms fog that quickly reduces visibility—like eyeglasses (been there), cookware covers (done that), and windshields (every single morning since mid-May).

So what makes CleanClear different from other coatings?

For starters, the permanent coating is extremely durable and only need be applied once.

And according to IMRE, it simplifies the manufacturing process. The coating can be applied on glass and plastic materials at processing temperatures below 100°C and doesn’t require activation by ultraviolet rays or sunlight, which means it can function without light (i.e., at night or in low light).

“Conventional technologies mainly use organic-based materials and some with nanoparticles but these don’t last long, and need to be re-coated from time to time. The CleanClear process makes the coating part of the surface—permanently,” says Gregory Goh, lead scientist from IMRE. “CleanClear could be used to help create a sort of a clear ‘vision shield’ for today’s car windshields during heavy rain. Or we could use it to replace current daytime, UV light activated coatings with an all-day, all-night CleanClear coat on building facades to keep glass cleaner.”


CleanClear in action. Credit: A*STAR IMRE, Singapore

IMRE is currently in talks to license the technology, so it may be awhile before it pops up in the products you use or the vehicles you drive.

What do you think: Is water glass’s friend or foe? Does CleanClear have the capacity to change the way you (better) see your world?