What Is a Metal Oxide Windshield?

by Philip McIntosh

Car windshields have improved greatly since the introduction of the first safety glass versions in 1905. Windshields containing metal oxides provide an electrical de-icing option or a heat reflecting capability.


The first windshields containing metal oxides appeared in the late 1980s and were installed on certain cars (usually more expensive models) throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s.

Metal Oxides

A metal oxide is a combination of a metal and oxygen. Oxides of tin, zinc, and/or indium are used in windshields.

Metal Oxide Heating Elements

Electrically conductive transparent metal oxide films incorporated in a windshield are used to heat the windshield for de-icing.

Metal Oxide Reflectivity

A thin coating of silver is used in some windshields to reflect infrared and ultraviolet rays. Metal oxides are used in these windshields to protect the silver coating and to reduce reflections of other rays.


Windshields containing metal oxide particles can interfere with radio signals. Vehicles equipped with tollway auto-pass systems will often require an externally mounted transceiver if they have a metal oxide windshield.

About the Author

Philip McIntosh has more than 30 years of experience as an equipment engineer, scientific investigator and educator. He has been writing for 16 years, and his work has appeared in scientific journals, popular science magazines, trade journals and on science and technology websites. McIntosh holds a B.S. in botany and chemistry, and an M.A. in biological science.

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