This Will Revolutionize Robotics

smart glass. image by pixabay

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A new smart glass development will contribute to various commercial and security applications, ranging from imaging to advanced robotics. Photodetectors, also known as photosensors, convert light energy into electrical signals to complete tasks such as opening automatic sliding doors and automatically adjusting a cell phone’s screen brightness in different lighting conditions. 

A team of Penn State researchers in ACS Nano seeks to further advance photodetectors’ use by integrating the technology with durable Gorilla glass, the material used for smart phone screens that is manufactured by Corning Incorporated. This could lead to the commercial development of “smart glass,” or glass equipped with automatic sensing properties. 

“There are two problems to address when attempting to manufacture and scale photodetectors on glass,” said principal investigator Saptarshi Das, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics (ESM). “It must be done using relatively low temperatures ..and must ensure the photodetector can operate on glass using minimal energy.”

To overcome the first challenge, the team determined that the chemical compound molybdenum disulfide was the best material to use as a coating on the glass. 

Then they used a chemical reactor at 600 degrees Celsius — a low enough temperature so as not to degrade the Gorilla glass – to fuse together the compound and glass. The next step was to turn the glass and coating into a photodetector by patterning it using a conventional electron beam lithography tool. 

If developed commercially, smart glass could lead to technology advances in wide-ranging sectors of industry including in manufacturing, civil infrastructure, energy, health care, transportation and aerospace engineering, according to the researchers. The technology could be applied in biomedical imaging, security surveillance, environmental sensing, optical communication, night vision, motion detection and collision avoidance systems for autonomous vehicles and robots.

Other uses could include car windshields that will adapt to oncoming high-beam headlights when driving at night by automatically shifting its opacity using the technology, aircraft windows that can automatically dim sunlight by pilots and passengers, and more, according to news.psu.edu.

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