As winter wends its way across the land, a research development from Volkswagen and Audi researchers, as well as personnel from the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Technology in Braunschweig certainly sounds appealing, particularly in light of those frosty mornings when you’re outside with a ill-designed plastic implement trying to scrape the frozen condensation from your windshield.
What they’ve done is to come up with a way to keep the ice from forming in the first place.
"We call this a ‘Low-E’ [low thermal emissivity] coating. Applied to the outer glazing, it prevents heat from radiating skyward," explains Thomas Drescher of Volkswagen Development.
The coating is a thin, transparent layer of indium tin oxide that is applied to the glass. Essentially, it keeps the glass from cooling by minimizing radiative heat loss from the glass outward. It may not always prevent ice formation, but Drescher says, “It can significantly reduce the likelihood of it happening.”
No coating (left); coating (right).
The coating is not quite ready for application. One problem: the coating interferes with mobile phone reception. Most people would be so angry if their phones didn’t work that their heat could melt even the thickest ice.