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Mirrored sunglasses are sunglasses with a reflective optical coating (called a mirror coating or flash coating) on the outside of the lenses to make them appear like small mirrors. The lenses typically give the wearer's vision a brown or grey tint. The mirror coating decreases the amount of light passing through the tinted lens by a further 10–60%, making it especially useful for conditions of sand, water, snow, and higher altitudes. Mirrored sunglasses are one-way mirrors.
The color of the mirror coating is independent of the tint of the lenses. It is determined by the thickness and structure of the layer.
Their popularity with police officers in the United States has earned them the nickname "cop shades". The two most popular styles for these are dual lenses set in metal frames (which are often confused with Aviators), and "Wraparound" (a single, smooth, semi-circular lens that covers both eyes and much of the same area of the face covered by protective goggles, combined with a minimal plastic frame and single piece of plastic serving as a nosepad). Wraparound sunglasses are also quite popular in the world of extreme sports.
The simplest version of a mirror coating is a single layer of a deposited thin film of a suitable metal, usually prepared by ion beam deposition, sputter deposition or vapor deposition. However, this kind of coating is very prone to scratching, and degrades, especially in a corrosive environment like salt water.
More modern reflective coatings usually have several alternating layers of specific thickness, made of dielectric materials and sometimes metals. The metal layer can be made from titanium, nickel or chromium, or from an alloy like Nichrome or Inconel, and has thickness ranging from 0.5 to 9 nanometers. The dielectric layer comprises a suitable oxide, e.g. chromium oxide, silicon dioxide, or titanium dioxide; its thickness determines the reflective properties of the resulting dielectric mirror. The manufacturing process is similar to making anti-reflective coating, and mirror and antireflective coatings can be deposited in the same sequence of operations.
Many characters in the cyber thriller movie series, The Matrix exclusively wear mirrored sunglasses, Morpheus in particular. Another popular icon, especially in the 60s, was the character 'the man with no eyes' from the movie Cool Hand Luke.