Blinding glare is a common-and sometimes dangerous-problem for drivers, welders, commercial pilots, even for optical sensors in delicate equipment. Now a Penn State researcher has made liquid crystal materials that perform a kind of optical jujitsu-reacting to the light intensity by increasing their own opacity and blocking out the glare.
Electrical engineering professor I.C. Khoo says the most promising initial applications are protective goggles for anyone exposed to bright light or lasers, such as commercial pilots or welders. In addition, says Khoo, devices based on the materials could protect sensitive optical detectors used in instruments and satellites. He expects to build prototypes by this summer but declines to elaborate on what they will be used for. Research funding comes from the U.S. Army and the Naval Air Development Center.