Flexible Smart Window Material

While glass is not an outdated material, there have been many recent advancements in its uses. Recently, researchers at the University of Texas, Austin have developed a way to electronically tint glass windows through the use of a new flexible material. Their goal, to be allow indoor occupants to be able to control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, is being met by their development of dual-band electrochromic materials.

This innovation is different from other smart windows because this new material can be attached to plastic, rather than the actual glass, giving it the flexibility to be attached to already existing glass of any shape or size. By applying this film to buildings, the tenants would be able to lower their use of electricity by controlling the amount of sunlight does, or does not enter the building, therefore reducing heating and cooling bills.

As the researchers’ advancements continue they have been able to add new properties to the flexible material. Their most current breakthrough is a characteristic that hits home for us Minnesotans; a warm mode that allows near-infrared light to enter, but emits the ability for visible light to be blocked. “This new setting could be most useful on a sunny winter day, when an occupant would want infrared radiation to pass into a building for warmth, but the glare from sunlight to be reduced.”

Sources:

University of Texas at Austin : http://www.engr.utexas.edu/news/7986-smarter-window-materials

Materia: http://materia.nl/article/new-low-cost-flexible-smart-window-material/

 

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Image Source: http://materia.nl/article/new-low-cost-flexible-smart-window-material/

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One comment

  1. Claire Kim

    I found this article very interesting. I was especially fascinated by the fact that the flexible smart window could be used on non-glass material and the positive effects it could have on the environment.
    Making glass requires a natural resource: sand. When making glass, one must use a very specific type of sand, sand with very few impurities, and most likely white. Since glass is in such high demand, there has also been a high demand for this specific type of sand, and it is not a renewable resource. If the flexible smart window has the technological abilities to control incoming heat and light from the sun, therefore save the amount of electricity and gas used in a home, and on top of that can be used on non-glass material, this could be a big step towards environmentally conscious architecture.
    As the population grows, more and more resources are being used, which forces people to be more conscientious about the environmental impact that humans have. The versatility of this smart window allows it to be attached to already existing glass, or for newer structures, non-glass material such as plastic.
    The only concern I have is that if glass were to be replaced by plastic, would the production of plastic be more or less harmful to the environment? Would the finances of this new material affect whether or not it can be mass produced? Lastly, what kind of material does the flexible smart window consist of?

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