Smart windows can do things like change from clear to hazy by adding water or turning black in under a minute. They can even act as a solar panel while staying clear. The newest development of smart windows is an ultra-thin coating that can respond to temperature changes.
This coating is a thousand times thinner than a human hair and is undetectable to the naked eye. The coating lets in more heat when it is cold outside and blocks the sun when it is hot. This coating could help users keep heating and cooling costs low, while also helping the environment.
"We lose most of our energy in buildings through windows. This makes maintaining buildings at a certain temperature a very wasteful and unavoidable process. Our technology will potentially cut the rising costs of air-conditioning and heating, as well as dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of buildings of all sizes,” said lead investigator and associate professor Madhu Bhaskaran. “Solutions to our energy crisis do not come only from using renewables; smarter technology that eliminates energy waste is absolutely vital."
When compared to average windows, smart windows with this coating are 70 percent more energy efficient in the summer months and 45 percent more efficient in the winter months.
The coating can also be turned off and on with a switch, according to Mohammad Taha, co-researcher and Ph.D. student. "This switch is similar to a dimmer and can be used to control the level of transparency on the window and therefore the intensity of lighting in a room," Taha said. "This means users have total freedom to operate the smart windows on demand."
Smart windows aren’t the only use for this new coating. The researchers believe that the coating could be helpful for controlling non-harmful radiation, medical imaging and security scans.
A paper on this new coasting was published in Scientific Reports-Nature.