Singapore-made anti-reflective plastics to be commercialized

May 23, 2012

The innovative plastics offer improved performance and wider viewing angles over existing anti-reflective plastics in the market. This plastic uses a locally-developed nanotechnology method that creates a complex pattern of super tiny structures that mimic the patterns found on a moth’s eye, which has a unique method of diffusing light. 

Researchers from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and their commercial partners have developed a new plastic that reflects just 0.09 – 0.2% of the visible light hitting its surface. This matches or betters existing anti-reflective and anti-glare plastics in the market, which typically have reported reflectivity of around 1% of visible light. Such plastics are used in anything from TV displays to windows and even solar cells. Because of the unique nanotechnology method used, the new plastic developed by IMRE maintains very low reflectivity (<0.7%) at angles up to 45˚. This means that TV viewers can have wider viewing angles with less glare and organic solar cells have larger areas for light absorption.    

“The new plastic was made possible because of the unique nanoimprint expertise that we have developed at IMRE,” said Dr. Low Hong Yee, the senior scientist who is leading the research. Several companies are in the process of licensing the anti-reflective nanostructure technology from Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd, the technology transfer arm of A*STAR. “We are also developing complementary research that allows the technology to be easily ramped-up to an industrial scale,” explained Dr. Low.

This plastic material is the first successful result of the IMRE-led Industrial Consortium On Nanoimprint (ICON), which partners local and overseas companies to promote the manufacturing of nanoimprint technology. Nanoimprinting relies on engineering the physical aspects of the plastics rather than using harmful chemicals to change the properties of the plastic. The technology has allowed the researchers to create very unique, complex hierarchical ‘moth eye-like’ anti-reflective structures where nanometer-sized structures are placed on top of other microstructures - different from how other similar plastics are made. This formed special patterns that are better at reducing glare and reflection and provides wider viewing angles than the current available .

“This is an exciting innovation – mimicking nature through the nanoimprint technology to solve real world problems. I am very pleased that the collaboration with industry has helped move this R&D from the laboratory to application in the industry, said Prof Andy Hor, IMRE’s Executive Director. He adds, “The development of the new plastic is a testament to the strength of Singapore’s advanced R&D capabilities, the benefits of nanoimprint technology and the confidence that companies place on our technologies.”

“The outstanding results from this consortium work will benefit our company's expansion into new markets such as in the touchscreen panel and solar business sectors," said Mr. Wilson Kim Woo Yong, Director, Global Marketing from Young Chang Chemical Co., Ltd.

“We have been very impressed with the developed technology and with the excellent team of researchers working on the anti-reflective structures”, said Mr. Tatsuo Shirahama, President from Innox Co. Ltd.

“The results from the consortium work are key in the decision making for our future strategic planning,” said Dr. Yuji Akatsu, Business Unit Manager from the Nanotechnology business unit, Advanced Products Business Headquarters, NTT-AT.

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