Window tinting technology inspired by Boeing 787 Dreamliner can enable people to automatically control the heat and sunlight in their homes without obstructing vision
- Window tint technology similar to that of Boeing can be used more widely
- The new type of tinted glass can range from 80 percent tinted to completely transparent
- It is also potentially useful for car manufacturers, cycling goggles and ski goggles
New technology that makes smart tinted windows cheaper, more effective and more sustainable could make them cheaper for the home and even for car use in the future, research shows.
Researchers say the new windows will allow more people to control the amount of heat and sunlight entering their home – without obstructing the view.
The University of Colorado team has developed a new method for controlling smart shades on windows compared to existing commercially available models.
The tinted glass, which ranges from 80 percent tinted to fully transparent, lets more natural light through the house windows and can even reduce energy consumption.
The study authors say their technology is likely to be cheaper to manufacture than existing solutions, and they were already interested by some automakers.
Researchers say the glass can change from opaque to transparent in just three minutes
The new method uses a “reversible process of electrodeposition of metals” that is different from current industry standards, said lead author Mike McGehee.
“Smart window technology allows users to adjust the amount of sunlight and heat entering through the house or windows without blocking the view,” he said.
Tinting provides more natural light through the windows of the house while maintaining privacy – this can have a positive impact on energy reduction.
Despite the benefits, dynamic windows have not yet reached mass market appeal due to some underlying issues with existing technologies.
McGehee and colleagues explain in detail how metal can be galvanized on a transparent electrode to block light – reducing the cost of staining.
After electroplating, the electrode is stripped to make the window transparent again by manipulating the voltage going into it.
Researchers have specifically explored how different electrolytes can be used in different ways to achieve the desired results with their color technology.
McGehee said, “What we do is build an electrochemical cell. We have a transparent electrode and an electrode with metal ions.
‘By switching the voltage, the thin sheet metal blocks the light. It is not at all how other people achieve the same effect. ‘
He said that this new process ultimately results in a more desirable neutral color of glass than other technologies and allows for easier transparency adjustment.
Their technology can deliver up to 80 percent shades – while many of the windows on the market can only deliver up to 70 percent shades.
“This transition can also be done quickly, with a contrast of 60 percent in less than three minutes,” says McGehee.
The team has already created a one-square meter window with this process and is currently running stability and other tests before scaling it up
They couldn’t say exactly what the tinting would cost, but suggested that their end product would be ‘less expensive to make than existing technologies.’
“Potential cost savings were difficult to estimate, but producing windows with this technology does not require large special tools and has high throughput – meaning the glass can be manufactured quickly,” he said.
The team has already created a one square meter window with this process and is currently conducting stability and other tests.
Initial results indicate long-term durability with no evidence of electrode etching, which reduces overall performance and is a major disadvantage for other versions.
Car manufacturers are also interested in the technology, while aircraft construction Boeing already uses electrochromic windows on their 787 Dreamliner.
McGehee speculated that other areas of application could be cycling glasses or goggles that move with the rapidly changing lighting conditions.
“This is a question and process that my group has been looking at for a while.
“This paper addresses many of the issues this technology is facing and we think there are many opportunities in the future.”
The findings are published in the journal Joule.