Tunable, Anti-Reflection Coating Using Common Shape Memory Polymers

Technology #16116

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Peng Jiang
Sin-Yen Leo
Yin Fang
Danielle Liu
Managed By
Lenny Terry
Assistant Director 352-392-8929

Scalable Nanoparticle Self-Assembly Performs In Ambient Conditions

This tunable, anti-reflection coating uses a variety of shape memory polymers with a nanoporous structure to help regulate light transmission and reflection in monitors, car dashboards, optical lenses, smart devices, solar cells and more. By 2020, the global anti-reflective coatings market will be worth more than $4.9 billion. The development of many smart devices precipitates the need to develop responsive optical coatings that can regulate light transmission and reflection. However, available tunable, anti-reflection coatings require tedious layer-by-layer self-assembly of polyelectrolytes, and depend on aqueous solutions to enable tuning. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a coating with a nanoporous monolayer that can be fine-tuned even after the anti-reflection coating is fabricated. This technology facilitates anti-reflection in both liquid solvents and air and is enabled by a simple and scalable nanoparticle self-assembly platform, greatly expanding its manufacturability and application.


Tunable, anti-reflection coatings using various shape memory polymers with a broad thermomechanical range for application in regulating light transmission and reflection for products such as smart windows, brightness-adjustable displays and optical lenses


  • Exhibits cyclically optical transition, showing no sign of degradation despite repetitive tuning by deformation and recovery of nanopores
  • Functions in a broad range of conditions, enabling fine-tuning by simple structural manipulation in ambient conditions
  • Performs in both liquid and air, greatly expanding the scope of anti-reflection coating applications


By using a simple and scalable Langmuir-Blodgett method, University of Florida researchers created a self-assembled silica nanoparticle monolayer and used it as a structural template for making nanoporous polymer membranes with anti-reflective properties. Structural manipulation at ambient conditions tunes the optical reflection of the shape memory polymer membranes. In its original state, the nanoporous structure provides a low optical reflection of light. When distorted, it shows high optical reflection. The shape memory polymers used have broad thermomechanical properties, exhibiting “cold” programming behaviors. This allows them to deform and recover repeatedly, changing to a highly reflective state back to the original state, at ambient conditions with no sign of degradation after hundreds of cycles, quite different from traditional thermoresponsive shape memory polymers. In addition, the tunable, anti-reflection operations can occur in both air and in solvents.