The VW Group, in association with the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Technology (IST) in Braunschweig, is researching into a windscreen that may reduce ice formation in cold climate.
Researchers have introduced what they claim to be the first anti-fogging and anti-icing car windscreen. Unlike heated windows, the new glass panes make use of a physical principle that does not allow an ice layer to form in the first place, even at temperatures as low as -18 C. The secret lies in a wafer-thin transparent coating of indium tin oxide that is applied to the window and in theory, stops heat from building up and prevents or delays cooling of the glass surface to below the dew point. Volkswagen calls it a ‘Low-E’ (low thermal emissivity) coating and will promote it throughout the Group. Thomas Drescher of Volkswagen Development explained that the 'Low-E coating' cannot prevent ice formation or condensation entirely, but it can significantly reduce the likelihood of it happening.
VW Group says that they still have to work around some problems before they offer this technology on production models. One such issue in the current development phase is that new coating interferes with radio transmission, impairing radio and mobile phone reception.
"It will take some time before the ice-free car windscreen is market-ready, but we are working intensively toward this goal. The bottom line is that for the Volkswagen Group, the ice-free window represents a successful innovation that is unique worldwide," said Drescher.