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Scientists develop anti-fog coating

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Foggy windscreens, eyeglasses and camera lenses could become a thing of the past, after researchers from Canada's Université Laval developed a permanent coating that prevents water vapour in the air from condensing into droplets.

The very first permanent anti-fog coating - developed by a team led by professor Gaétan Laroche, from the university's Faculty of Sciences and Engineering - could help reduce the number of car insurance claims lodged after crashes caused by fogged-up windscreens.

By using a hydrophilic compound known as polyvinyl alcohol, researchers created the thin, transparent, multilayered coating that ensures that water spreads uniformly across the surface and does not condense to form fog.

It also ensures that the surface on which the material is coated retains its optical properties.

Prof Laroche said: "Despite appearances, the fog that forms on glasses is not a continuous film. In fact, it consists of tiny droplets of water that coalesce on the surface and reduce light transmission.

"A good anti-fog coating should prevent the formation of such droplets."

The findings have been published in an online edition of Applied Materials and Interfaces journal.

In addition to car windshields, the material could be used for protective visors, camera lenses, binoculars, contact lenses, as well as a variety of laboratory instruments.

© Press Association 2011