A hydrophobic and abrasion-resistant MgF2 coating with an ultralow refractive index for double-layer broadband antireflective coatings
An ultralow-index top layer is a prerequisite to preparing high-performance broadband AR coatings. When coupled with hydrophobicity and the abrasion-resistance required in practical applications, the challenge becomes even greater. In this work, a MgF2 AR coating was studied because of the low refractive index of MgF2 and its easily realized strong adhesion through low-temperature heat treatment. In order to obtain an ultralow refractive index and endow the coating with hydrophobicity, we designed several experimental routes and finally adopted MTES/TEOS co-precursors to direct MgF2 particles to form a honeycomb-like network structure without a template. A final refractive index of 1.15 and good hydrophobicity, with a water contact angle of 122°, were obtained using the MgF2–SiO2(CH3) coating. These superior properties were attributed to the incorporation of methyl groups, which not only endowed the coating with hydrophobicity, but also changed the original linear assembly of MgF2 particles to a circular assembly. Using this hydrophobic ultralow-index coating as a top layer, a high-performance double-layer AR coating was fabricated with a high average transmittance of 99.43% in the wavelength range of 400–1000 nm, good abrasion-resistance, and damp heat resistance after a low-temperature heat treatment of 250 °C. This MgF2 double-layer AR coating may be used in display devices or lenses.