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Advances In Smart Glass
Advances In Smart Glass
Engineers recently developed dynamic windows for planes, cars, homes and buildings, that can switch from transparent to opaque and back, in under a minute.
Technology Briefing

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Stanford University engineers recently developed dynamic windows for airplanes, cars, homes, and commercial buildings, that can switch from transparent to opaque, and back again, in under a minute. And, they do not degrade over time.

The prototypes are plates of conductive glass outlined with metal ions that spread out over the surface, blocking light, in response to electrical current. The group recently filed a patent for the work, published August 9, in the journal Joule.

Dynamic windows have the potential to transform our homes, businesses, cars, and more, reducing heating and cooling costs or the need for blinds. But, while some dynamic windows already exist, they have not succeeded in the marketplace. Why?

Existing smart windows, such as those used on some airlines, are made of materials, such as tungsten oxide, that change color when charged with electricity. But these materials tend to be expensive, have a blue tint, and they take over twenty minutes to dim. They also become less opaque after extended usage.

The Stanford prototype represents a completely new and different solution. It blocks light through the movement of copper and another metal in a solution over a sheet of transparent indium tin oxide modified by platinum nanoparticles. When transparent, the windows are clear and allow about 80 percent of surrounding natural light through, and when dark, transmission drops to under 5 percent. In tests, the researchers switched the windows on and off over 5,500 times and saw no change in the transmission of light, indicating that the design is durable.

There is still work to do before scaling up for commercial applications. For instance, the prototypes are now limited in how much area they can cover, but there are plans to address this problem. The group also wants to cut the cost of the windows so that they are less than half the cost of any dynamic windows that are already on the market.

Such dynamic window technology has the potential to optimize the lighting in rooms or vehicles, save about 20 percent in heating and cooling costs, and even change the way people wear sunglasses.
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