|Katharine Burr Blodgett ( 1898-1979)|
I have never worn glasses without this coating, nor did I know it is sometimes called invisible glass. My husband, who has worn glasses his entire life, insisted I wanted a non reflective coating, when it came time to buy my first set of prescription glasses. I've since learned that without this coating, the glass becomes visible when light is reflected off the surface. Have you ever noticed a glare on someone's glasses? They probably do not have the special coating, or as scientists call it, "invisible glass."
Katharine Burr Blodgett (Katie) was a brilliant woman. Born in Schenectady, New York, and completing high school at the age of fifteen (1913), she went on to earn a bachelor's degree, a master's, and eventually a doctorate in physics, becoming the first woman to earn such a degree from Cambridge University. As a young physicist she decided to devote her life to scientific research, and became the first female scientist hired by General Electric. In the 1920s and 1930s it was rare for a woman to enter the science field at an advanced level.
Among other research pursuits, Katie began an independent study of an oily substance that another scientist had recently discovered. Learning how difficult it was to measure the substance precisely, Katie sought a way to measure transparent objects more accurately. It led to the invention of nonreflecting ("invisible") glass in 1938.
Without going into mind-boggling detail, only a physicist would understand, Katie basically coated the glass with a film of transparent liquid soap, forty-four layers thick (one molecule per layer) to make the glass invisible. The reflection from the soap film neutralized the reflection from the glass itself.
With more research Katie developed a harder coating that could not be wiped off. This is the coating used today to coat eyeglasses, but there have been many, many other applications.
Here are some examples:
- automobile windshields
- shop windows
- optical equipment
- picture frames
- submarine periscopes
Katie received numerous awards for her research, and she is also known for her work on technology during World Wars I and II:
- poison gas absorbents
- de-icing airplane wings
- improved smokescreens.
http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/online-resources/chemistry-in-history/themes/microelectronics-and-nanotechnology/langmuir-blodgett.aspx; http://home.frognet.net/~ejcov/blodgett2.html; Blodhttp://www.enchantedlearning.com/inventors/women.shtmlgett
Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl