New technology may let you throw away your ice scrapers

Forget blasting your defrosters and scraping windshields tirelessly in the wintertime — a new technology may help keep them ice-free.

Scientists at Rice University have adapted a coating, originally created for keeping ice off of radar domes, into a de-icing film that can be applied to glass while still maintaining transparency. Strips of graphene nanoribbon, a material around 250 times thinner than a strand of human hair, can be applied to glass surfaces from in order to keep the areas free from both ice and fog formation.

In addition to being conductive to heat and electricity, the coating was optimized to prevent any disruptions in the flow of radio signals, allowing cellphone and Wi-Fi traffic to operate unimpeded.

“One can now think of using these films in automobile glass as an invisible de-icer, and even in skyscrapers,” James Tour, a chemist at Rice University, said. “Glass skyscrapers could be kept free of fog and ice, but also be transparent to radio frequencies. It’s really frustrating these days to find yourself in a building where your cellphone doesn’t work. This could help alleviate that problem.”