Researchers create smart window that filters out heat and / or light

By on August 15, 2013, 11:30 AM

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a new material that is able to modify sunlight as it passes through glass. The thin coating of nanocrystals would be embedded in the glass of a window and unlike existing technology, offer selective control over the light that passes (or doesn’t pass) through.

This new type of smart window allows the user to control how much visible light and heat-producing near-infrared (NIR) light passes through in an effort to maximize both energy savings and user comfort across a wide range of climates.

In layman’s terms, this means a window could allow natural light to pass through without the unwanted heat, or vice-versa if you want a bit of shade and warmth during the winter months. Such control would reduce the need for artificial light, air conditioning and heating.

Delia Milliron, a chemist at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry who led the research pointed out that Americans spend roughly 25 percent of their total energy on lighting, heating and cooling buildings. When used as a window coating, the new material can have a major impact on building energy efficiency.

It works by utilizing an electrochromic effect where a small burst of electricity is used to switch the material from NIR-transmitting and NIR-blocking states. The technology recently won a 2013 R&D 100 Award and we are told they are in the process of commercializing it. No word yet on when we can expect to see smart windows utilizing this technology hit the market, however.




User Comments: 5

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1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

Looks very cool, but it also sounds like something that would end up like the solar panel fad Bill Gates described as 'cute'. If these things are expensive they will be used only by companies with money to burn who are trying to improve their 'green' cred. The average person will not care about saving a few bucks a month on heating if it costs $250 per window to do it.

RenGood08 RenGood08 said:

Looks very cool, but it also sounds like something that would end up like the solar panel fad Bill Gates described as 'cute'. If these things are expensive they will be used only by companies with money to burn who are trying to improve their 'green' cred. The average person will not care about saving a few bucks a month on heating if it costs $250 per window to do it.

Good point. It would be awesome to have. But you know, the average joe isn't going to spend $250/window when they could just live in the dark all the time. Why spend on something that's a "want" and not necessarily a "need?"

Charles B Charles B said:

I would be curious to see if this technology could be applied to automotive windows since many of us spend so much time travelling in our vehicles.... If so, I wonder how many hurdles they will have to go through in regards to current window tinting regulations concerning dark vehicle windows.

Chazz said:

When these come to the masses, I will buy them for certain.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I love the idea but also wonder about the price. Also agree they would be very cool in vehicles

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