Fraunhofer working on smudge-free touchscreens

Touchscreen smudges could fade away as Fraunhofer scientists, working to protect garden furniture, make an interesting side discovery.

Titanium dioxide molecules have been successfully used to destroy organic substances that cause algae, moss, bacteria and fungi and mark outdoor furniture. Now, Fraunhofer scientists argue that opportunities offered by titanium dioxide extend well past garden chairs, claiming to have developed a self-cleaning coating for glass surfaces.

Dr Michael Vergöhl, head of department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST in Braunschweig and head of the Fraunhofer Photocatalysis Alliance, said: "If you apply a thin coating of titanium dioxide to a glass surface such as a smartphone screen, the skin oils and fingerprints gradually disappear from the display by themselves."

The molecules do need one hour of sunlight to be activated so would be suitable for outdoor displays but this time remains a barrier to many applications. However, researchers say the next step is to develop materials that can be activated by artificial light.